Taos Winter Wine Festival offers a treat for the senses

Drink a toast

By Dena Miller
Posted 1/30/19

Over two dozen local restaurants and three dozen national wineries and importers will host an array of tastings, chefs' luncheons, wine dinners and seminars, culminating in a Grand Tasting on Saturday (Feb. 2) and a Super Champagne Brunch on Sunday (Feb. 3).

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Taos Winter Wine Festival offers a treat for the senses

Drink a toast


Fun fact: New Mexico is the oldest wine-growing region in the United States, thanks to the Spaniards who imported the grapes here over 400 years ago.

No surprise, then, that Northern New Mexico has become a cult destination for fine wines, fine food and fine skiing. They all come together in the four-day celebration of Taos Winter Wine Fest, beginning today (Jan. 31) with a schedule of events spanning venues in Taos Ski Valley and throughout town.

Over two dozen local restaurants and three dozen national wineries and importers will host an array of tastings, chefs' luncheons, wine dinners and seminars, culminating in a Grand Tasting on Saturday (Feb. 2) and a Super Champagne Brunch on Sunday (Feb. 3).

And, for the seventh year in coordination with Wine Fest, the Harwood Museum of Art will host its popular "Art of Wine" and silent auction après-ski event on Friday (Feb. 1).

Anticipation is also high with Vivac Winery -- the only local winery participating in the festival -- poised to uncork two very special new offerings during the weekend's tastings: "Legendary Wine by a Taos Legend." Are you intrigued? Keep reading, then, because there's a lot of news about this weekend to share.

Today's main events begin at 3:30 p.m., when El Monte Sagrado and Domaine Egly-Ouriet host a champagne, caviar and blini seminar. It will be immediately followed by the Taste of Taos and Reserve tasting. From 5-7 p.m. you'll enjoy sampling the foods of 12 of your favorite local restaurants and reserve wines from all of the participating wineries. Though ticketed individually, you can purchase a reduced-rate VIP package.

On Friday (Feb. 1) things get jumping at TSV, when from noon until 1:30 p.m. Phoenix Grill hosts a ski-in, ski-out lamb roast featuring the wines of Limerick Lane, Bedrock and Marietta alongside the culinary expertise of Common Fire and salt+wine. Meanwhile, at the TSV Resort Center, the historic Ridge Monte Bello Vineyard hosts a tasting from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Later in the afternoon "Adventures on the Kermit Lynch Wine Route" will take place at the TSV Resort Center from 2:30-3:30 p.m., and an après-ski tasting will highlight 12 different wineries served alongside canapes courtesy of Joseph Wrede and White Rock's Pig + Fig. Find that at the Martini Tree from 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Saturday (Feb. 2) is jam-packed. Plan to be on the deck of the Snakedance Condominium Hotel, where you'll enjoy Willamette Valley Wines and chef Shane Alexander's salmon roast from noon-1:30 p.m. TSV Resort Center will be hosting Robert Sinskey Vineyards and Matthiasson's Wines from 12:30-1:30 p.m., followed by Spanish Vignerons of Galicia from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Everyone's favorite is the Grand Tasting, where festival vendors descend upon TSV Resort Center from 4:30-7 p.m. and offer tastings of 150 wines accompanied by great bites from the area's fine dining establishments.

Your weekend will enjoy a leisurely conclusion at El Monte Sagrado where Executive Chef Cristina Martinez will pair four successive plates with four sparkling wines presented by the winemaker from Raventós i Blanc. Seating is 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Tickets vary in price from $35 to $95 and must be purchased online at, where you will also find a list of restaurants participating in special wine dinners throughout the weekend. Please note that all festival events are 21 and over; no infants or children will be admitted.

If you can't make it to the slopes, Linda Warning, president of the Harwood Alliance, assures you that "Art of Wine" - featuring Argyle, Chateau D'Esclan, Gruet wineries, Kermit Lynch merchants and more - will satisfy the oenophile in you. You'll also have the chance to acquire a work by R. C. Gorman, Ouray Meyers, Alyce Frank and other notable names.

Join them on Friday (Feb. 1) from 3-6 p.m., where, "In addition to the many wines that will be highlighted we have a wonderfully curated selection of auction items," said Warning, the proceeds of which support exhibition development. The event is free for members but, she noted, "We're offering a special six-month membership for $25, available at the door." If you're not already a member of the Harwood, consider this time to join and support one of New Mexico's premier museums.

Which leaves us with question to which you want the answer: Who is the legend behind the new wines at Vivac? The answer is Robert Mirabal.

The partners in this creative collaboration will unveil Mirabal Reserve, offering both a red and white wine whose profiles have been selected to "express the heritage and tradition of New Mexico and embody the heart and soul of New Mexico True," its press says.

In what is believed to be the first indigenous label of fine wines produced under classic French protocols, Mirabal Reserve's Vino Rojo is a unique blend of Sangiovese grapes crafted with native chokecherries. "It's bold with velvety tannins and a hint of berry notes, and made to stand up to the flavors of traditional Pueblo fare, particularly of game," Mirabal said.

Its Vino Blanco is a blend of of Gewurztraminer and Malvasia grapes, with a structure offering great acidity and a beautiful fruit flavor that isn't sweet, noted Michele Padberg of Vivac.

The story behind the Mirabal Reserve partnership is as intriguing as the wines themselves, rooted in a shared passion for the land beginning with Mirabal. Though he enjoys an international reputation as a Taos Pueblo musician and artist, he sees himself in much simpler terms. "I'm a hunter and a farmer," he said. "I hunt and harvest the food to feed my family; I gather the wood to heat my home."

His business partner, Tre DeCosta, noted their time hunting and cooking together led to the first glimmer of Mirabal Reserve. "We share an appreciation for the challenges and the romance of working the land," he said, "and with Robert, it's deeply based in the traditions of the old and stories of his past."

Mirabal doesn't deny his sentimental tendencies, recalling how his grandmother would bring grapes for him each summer, plucked from a generations-old vine on Jemez reservation. "It started the journey between the grapes and me."

Joining forces with Vivac was the perfect match. "We grew up here, too, and as hunters and farmers, ourselves, saw a synergy developing in this partnership of which we're very proud," said Padberg who - along with her husband, Jesse; brother-in-law Chris; and sister-in-law Liliana - is a certified sommelier.

Mirabal Reserve and all Vivac wines are handcrafted with grapes never sourced outside of New Mexico, yet are classically European. Over two decades the winery has been awarded the highest international honors.

"Our high elevation lends certain flavors and cultural expressions you find nowhere else," concluded Mirabal, who hopes your first sip will awaken you to the land, too.

For details on all events, visit


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