As soon as you pass the sign welcoming you to Corrales, it’s clear that you’re some place special.
The village of Corrales, a laidback town of about 8,500 people just northwest of Albuquerque, is an idyllic sliver of time. Horses graze in pastures; trees grace the sides of the road; orchards and vineyards dot the landscape; galleries, small shops and restaurants (often in vintage buildings) line the over-two-mile stretch of Corrales Road. And overseeing it all from the other side of the Rio Grande are the watermelon mountains of the Sandias.
The land that became Corrales is some of the richest in the state. Agriculture flourishes in the fertile soil that’s nourished by the waters of the Rio Grande. The early farmers planted crops, and missionaries planted grapes to make the sacramental wine. That agricultural tradition is still strong, and it has been flavored by an influx of artists who, entranced by the beauty and the light, settled in town and turned it into a working artists’ homeland.
Artists at Work
The art scene in Corrales can only be described as big, diverse and vibrant. Imagine a medium and someone is probably working in it. Art dolls, metal working, wood working, pottery and quilting, as well as more traditional media can be found in individual studios, galleries and cooperatives. The Corrales Society of Artists/New Mexico Artists’ Market lists over 120 members. not all of the artists live in Corrales, the majority who do note the warm welcome and support they receive from their peers as one of the joys of the village. “The way in which artists here work together and support each other is uncommon and something to value,” says Ken Duckert, the president of the society.
Many artists work out of home studios, but there are certainly plenty of places to get your art on. At Hanselmann Pottery (4908 Corrales Road), you’ll find everything from tiny vases to gorgeous canister sets and even full place settings and bridal registries. Each piece of stoneware is hand-thrown on the potter’s wheel and then glazed, so no two pieces are truly identical.
The Morgan Gallery, also at 4908 Corrales Road, represents over 20 artists whose work spans media and style, from abstract paintings to watercolor landscapes, and sculptures to photography. Although the gallery does showcase international artists, the preponderance of artists is from Corrales.
Corrales Bosque Gallery (4685 Corrales Road) has been showcasing its juried members for 20 years. Representing 16 diverse artists, the gallery takes the jury process one step further and accepts particular types of work. Artist Alice Webb, for example, displays her abstracts and landscapes, while Dianna Shomaker shows her eye-catching encaustic work, created from heated wax and colored pigments.
Galeria de Corrales (3923 Corrales Road), at the southern entrance to town, is another member-owned-and-operated art gallery with artisan crafts such as ceramics, printmaking, handcrafted art dolls, jewelry and quilting as well.
Rugs are art, too—especially in Corrales. At Classic World Rugs (4685 Corrales Road), the Joseph brothers, Imran and Irfam, not only sell beautiful handmade rugs, but they are happy to educate shoppers about the different styles and kinds. The rugs, many from Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, fill the space and turn the shop into a kaleidoscope of color and pattern, with styles and types of rugs that can’t be found elsewhere. These rugs are, as Imran notes, “like a piece of art, and the most practical art.”
Antiques and unique jewelry? Prized Possessions (4534 Corrales Road) boasts a huge, diverse antique jewelry collection. Owner Janet Pugh uses her degree in fine art to transmute antique buttons into pendants and earrings, as well as other one-of-a-kindpieces. “I like to take antique things and mount them,” she explains.
Wine and Food
Wine growing is a tradition that stretches back to the Spanish colonization. The grape-growing tradition of today has expanded beyond the original “mission grapes” and is upheld by the Corrales Wine Loop, which welcomes winelovers to its tasting rooms. Each of the four Loop wineries offers a regular schedule that includes Saturdays and Sundays (although the exact hours may vary), making it enticingly easy to begin at one end of town and sip (responsibly) to the other. Three of the four wineries are in Corrales. Acequia Winery (240 Reclining Acres) derives its name from the old Spanish term for the irrigation canals that channel water from the Rio Grande River. Corrales Winery and Vineyard (6275 Corrales Road), a solar-powered winery, offers striking views of the Sandias to the patrons sipping a glass on its patio. Pasando Tiempo (277 Dandelion Road) is the newest member of the Loop, and Matheson Winery (103 Rio Rancho Boulevard), while technically outside the town, is also part of the winery collective. Although Milagro Vineyards & Winery (125 Old Church Road) is not part of the wine loop, tours and tastings are available by appointment 505.898.3998.
There’s not a chain restaurant in sight in this local-focused town. Instead, there are individually owned and operated eateries that serve everything from pizza to fine dining, early breakfasts to late night brews.
Hannah & Nate’s (4512 Corrales Road) is a beloved place for breakfast and lunch, whether on the tree-shaded patio or in the air-conditioned dining areas. When you walk into Hannah & Nate’s, you’ll be handed both breakfast and lunch menus. My favorite meal of the day has always been the morning meal, so I was delighted to be able to order breakfast when I scooted in at 1:50 p.m. (they close at 2). The menu includes just about everything you could want, but my choice was Nate’s Omelet with carne adovada with a touch of cheddar cheese—richly flavored but without the hard bite. The lunch menu boasts salads, grilled sandwiches and New Mexico favorites. A children’s menu is also available.
When you crave fine dining with a laidback vibe, Indigo Crow Café (4515 Corrales Road) is a perfect choice, with lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch on the tree-shaded patio, or by the fireplace in winter. Indigo Crow recently reopened after remodeling its kitchen, bringing in new equipment. Innovative interpretations of established dishes keep diners returning to this delicious hideout. The wide-ranging menu includes beef, fish, chicken and pasta dishes, as well as some choice starters. Entrees feature filet with fire-roasted green chile and gorgonzola cream sauce, lobster ravioli with a 4-ounce tail and spicy lobster cream sauce, and a wonderful sweet-and-spicy glazed halibut.
Corrales Bistro Brewery (4908 Corrales Road) is known for its New Mexico microbrews. Open for lunch and dinner, with live entertainment most evenings, the Brewery has 12 beers on tap at any given time. In addition to brewing its own creations, the brewery also serves great beers from around the state. Water is a crucial ingredient for brewing great beer, and Corrales Bistro Brewery uses “untampered” water from its own deep well. The menu features salads, wraps, sandwiches and burgers. They get particularly busy after 4 p.m.
If the galleries and shops weren’t enough of a reason to visit Corrales, La Entrada Park by the Community Library is a patch of cooling green grass that hosts the monthly summer Art in the Park through October 4th. The Sunday summer Corrales Growers’ Market (500 Jones Road; 9 a.m. to noon) adds live music to the market’s baked goods, jams, honey and locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables. And of course, Wagner Farms, an agricultural institution for 100 years, has its own farmstand at 5000 Corrales Road, as well as beloved special events for families.
Although no longer a place of worship, the Old San Ysidro Church (966 Old Church Road) still welcomes the townspeople. The Corrales Historical Society restored and now maintains the iconic old church, which dates back to 1868 and is listed on the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places. The Historical Society offers an enticing program of activities that are listed on their website, corraleshistory.org.