© NM Wine Growers Association
New Mexico wineries allow visitors to get off the interstate and experience the agriculture, food and culture of the southwest. Local Flavor explores New Mexico Wine Trails for a taste of what our state’s wine growers have to offer.
In New Mexico we experience the full force of the elements: intense sun, inundating rains, sere desert air. When I explore our mountains, mesas, and valleys throughout the seasons, I’m amazed at the challenges farmers face growing crops within thee extremes. The drive from the Española valley to Taos is one time that I truly appreciate New Mexico’s incredible range of landscapes. One summer I dipped in a silty bend of the Rio Grande above Taos, then drove back through Dixon admiring the apple orchards. As a friend and I stopped in at Vivac Winery to taste some wines before returning south in a monsoon shower, the valley’s green, grey, pink and terra cotta shades intensified in the rain.
When it comes to Santa Fe, people think of the Plaza. We all know and love the Plaza. For festivities, people-watching and the occasional loitering about, it just can’t be beat. But it really is an almost ludicrously small segment of what Santa Fe has to offer. (And I’m guilty of it, too. As I researched this article, I discovered neighborhoods I had never truly explored, right in my own town!) So, for frequent visitors, curious travelers or residents who just haven’t poked around much, here are a few places—close to and far from the Plaza—that are worth digging into.
A few blocks from the Plaza off Paseo de Peralta, the Canyon Road neighborhood is a short but sweet stretch of galleries, clearly marked with a Canyon Road sign at the start and the appropriately named Last Gallery on the Right at the end.
This quiet neighborhood positively exudes charm and is practically bursting at the seams with creativity and inspiration. It’s a treat for the eyes, both inside the galleries and on the street, where cheerful gardens and brightly colored storefronts line the street for a half-mile. Adobe architecture and beautiful courtyards feature prominently alongside one of the highest concentrations of galleries you’ll find anywhere. Although the densely packed shops do have something to suit every taste—from pre-Columbian to postmodern—it makes for a pleasant stroll even if you’re not interested in art. The Wiford Gallery’s moving sculpture garden is particularly crowd-pleasing; it’s spacious, appealing and peaceful. Continue reading
The patio at La Casa Sena
In Santa Fe there are many fine restaurants with lovely outdoor patios. Each of the ones listed below has something special to offer, and each is a delight in its own way. What could be better? Bring together those you love. A culinary experience to cherish forever could be right around the corner.
The Compound Restaurant
Everything about the Compound, starting with it’s shady tree-lined driveway, says this establishment is all about understated elegance. The ambiance soothes; table settings are works of art in their own right, with linens, flatware and glassware arranged just so. The arden patio is a secluded courtyard featuring sculpture by Allan Houser and a central classical fountain. The bar-side patio is a casual setting with comfy sofas, a great place to have drinks with friends, while the main patio, suitable for larger groups, opens to views of the beautifully kept grounds.
At 653 Canyon Road. 505.982.4353. compoundrestaurant.com.
Cool margaritas and hot barbecue are the main events on the Cowgirl’s patio—and it’s a popular one, with the evening crowd of revelers often spilling onto the sidewalk. Tucked into a courtyard between the restaurant and busy Guadalupe Street, the patio boasts funky décor, red check tablecloths and a kaleidoscope of colorful umbrellas. Friendly Cowgirl waitstaff are decked out in Western attire with a twist of naughty. No cowgirl goes a-ropin’ doggies in short shorts like these, but, mind you, this ol’ boy ain’t complainin’… Now, where was I? This is a perfect spot to kick back, real casual-like, and have some fun. And take in the scenery.
At 319 South Guadalupe. 505.982.2565. cowgirlsantafe.com.
What are the best places to hit the trail in Northern New Mexico? We asked experts from local shops for their favorite mountain bike trails: their reliable standbys and secret gems. Here’s what they had to say about their top picks:
Mike Chapman, Broken Spoke in Santa Fe
Mike’s got several picks for his favorite area mountain bike trails, and it’s clear he’s a practical man who just wants to get out and ride. “Dale Ball is perfect before work or in the evening,” he says, noting that it’s ideal for squeezing in a quick ride in a short time frame, because it’s so close to Santa Fe. “In the wintertime, La Tierra is great, simply because it’s available. The ground gets a bit frozen, so you don’t leave a deep rut when you ride.”
While he considers La Tierra fun year round, when the weather warms up and the trails dry out, Mike says he’d rather be up amongst the aspens. “The high country trails are the true gems of this area.” He specifically likes Continue reading
Ride the Rio
Sometimes a surprise can be right around the bend, particularly for a sporting group dedicated to kayaking through whitewater rapids. It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and a revival of sorts is taking place on the Rio Grande River, just below Pilar, New Mexico, 15 miles south of Taos. The New Mexico River Outfitters Association, a league of local adventure companies who instruct and guide water trips along the Chama and Rio Grande rivers of Northern New Mexico, has resurrected one of the oldest river races west of the Mississippi, second only to the granddaddy of all river races, in Salida, Colorado, on the Arkansas River.
New Stone Age
What possesses people to challenge every muscle in their bodies, stretching and straining to achieve a toehold or fingerhold in a crack on the face of a cliff? Is it the quest for superhuman fitness, or perhaps the fashion statement made by climbing harnesses, helmets and other gear? For 30-year-old Lee Brinckerhoff, rock-climbing enthusiast and a manager at Albuquerque’s Stone Age Climbing Gym, the appeal lies in breaking through mental and physical barriers – and seeing other people do the same.