Albuquerque, New Mexico isn’t exactly known for its wine, but that hasn’t stopped the folks at Casa Rondeña Winery from making award-winning vintages for more than 15 years. Located on the northwest side of town, the winery welcomes locals and tourists to fall in love with wine again or for the first time at an estate that looks as if it’s been transplanted directly from the Tuscan countryside.
The winery started as a family vineyard with enough space for John Calvin to live, grow grapes, and make wine with his wife and two sons. Today the property features gardens and fountains, a public gift shop and tasting room, and a private club attached to a barrel aging and storage facility.
Visitors to the winery can walk between the grape vines and snap photos in the gardens before entering the tasting room to sample ten hand-crafted wines. A tour allows you to see the wine-making process from grape to glass.
In addition to pouring, winery staff will also help educate you on what you’re tasting and what — according to the experts, anyway — makes good wine. Learn about “wines with good legs” and the importance of proper wine-glass holding in addition to what actually goes into each glass. Perhaps the best bit of advice to be heard here, however, is that there is no right or wrong opinion to have about wine. A dry red is no more sophisticated than a sweet white or a blushing rosé. At Casa Rondeña Winery, they offer enough variety to please any palette.
Photos Britt Reints
Grape Stomping is messy fun
Stomp, stomp. Squish, squish. It’s grape stomping season! This is the time of year when you can have fun crushing grapes with your feet. Wineries across the country are holding all sorts of fun community events including races and special winery tours to encourage people to come on out and crush their grapes. You don’t have to visit the large, famous wineries like Napa or Sonoma, either — all wineries across the country have to harvest their grapes this time of year, and even the smallest ones often have grape stomps. Grape stomps are fun, messy events for the whole family. Try not to think about the fact that the grapes in the wine on your table could have been crushed by dozens of feet and you’l be fine.
If this is your thing, you’d better get on the ball quickly – many grape stomping events have already taken place in late August, but there are plenty of others coming up in September and October. If you are lucky enough to live in a grape growing region, do your research now and plan out your grape stomping schedule!
Read More »
Hawaii may be the last place you’d expect to find a winery, but on the Big Island, just a few minutes drive from Volcanoes National Park, that’s exactly what you’ll find. Volcano Winery offers wines made from both grapes and indigenous fruits grown on the island, like yellow guava and jaboticaba berry. The sweet and fruity wines here may not be very traditional, but they are perfect for enjoying underneath the warm Hawaiian sun.
Guests at the winery can taste several wines, like Macadamia Nut Honey Wine, Volcano Red, and Hawaiian Guava. Free tastings are held every day of the year from 10am to 5:30pm, with no appointment needed.
The wines are only available in Hawaii, so if you taste something you like, you’ll need to buy some and pack it in your checked luggage, pay for it to be shipped, or content yourself with enjoying it while you are on the island. The onsite wine store sells wine-themed decor, tools, art, and accessories, plus gourmet treats like olive oils and sea salts, plus Hawaiian souvenirs like t-shirts and ballcaps.
The winery is located at mile-marker 30, near Volcanoes National Park, and makes a great stop on the way back from exploring the Park.
Photo courtesy of Katie Hammel.
The Tuscany region of Italy is one of the country’s most beautiful spots. Rolling hills, endless rows of vines heavy with grapes, groves of olive trees, hilltop churches, and in the distance, the pale ochre city of Florence all combine to make the setting as picture perfect as it gets.
Throughout the region, you’ll find no shortage of wineries and agriturismos. You can rent a car and drive yourself to a winery or two each day, or arrange for a driver wherever you are staying. If you’ll be sleeping in Florence, you can book a tour with La Limonaia. They’ll come pick up in the city and transport you to the countryside for a day of sampling.
Read More »