26th Annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta

I have wanted to go to the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta for at least a decade. My husband, Bob, and I recently traveled to New Mexico, flying into Albuquerque, where we met our good friends from New Jersey. Together we rented a car for the hour long trip to Santa Fe for five days of fun in an adobe style home just off Canyon Road.

The highlight of the 26th Wine & Chile Fiesta was the Grand Tasting on Saturday, September 25, where 75 great Santa Fe restaurants, 90 world-class wineries and 3,000 food and wine enthusiasts gathered on the grounds of the Santa Fe Opera, in full view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, under a very blue sky. 

I had reviewed the list of participating wineries and had a plan of attack for the 3-hour event. Our friends are California Cabernet Sauvignon lovers and they took off in a different direction. There were some fantastic wines and I selected bottles that I had not had before.

Although I thought the wine would be the focus at the event, very early on (like the first table) it turned out it was the food. I tasted as many different dishes as possible.  The food was simply AMAZING!!! We feasted on sautéed scallops in a mango chipotle cream sauce, ice cream with chocolate chile sauce, squash blossom tempura with toasted almond and saffron sauce, smoked duck breast with fig mole, pork carnita tacos, Frito pie, chargrilled lamb chop, Sicilian brittle with coconut rum pastry cream and fresh strawberries, braised bison short ribs, tuna tacos, coq au vin pot pie, spicy tuna salad and black rice with warm coconut milk. It went on and on and we ate until we could not hold another bite.

We also attended one of the many wine seminars offered the day before the Grand Tasting, “Grower Champagne.” In addition to the tasting and seminars, wine dinners were held at various local restaurants where special menu items were paired with wines being showcased in the festival.  We ate at La Plazeula at La Fonda where the featured wines were from the Michael David Winery in Lodi, California.

New Mexico is a wine region containing an incredible variety of vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms amidst the low and high-desert vistas of the state. New Mexico Wine Growers Association website lists more than 50 wineries spread around the state. The economic impact in the state exceeds $60 million and production is expanding by 10 to 15 percent annually.
 
In addition to the wine fiesta there is great hiking in the area, along with an abundance of fine art galleries, boutique shops, fabulous restaurants and spas. It is definitely a vacation destination!

For more information, visit santafewineandchile.org

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