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St. Clair Winery in New Mexico – A Pleasant Visit

December 18th, 2009 -- by Allan Wright


We were traveling through New Mexico this past week on my way from Colorado to Arizona. We had no real plans to do anything but maximize our speed to reduce the driving time, but while heading through Deming, New Mexico we saw a sign for St. Clair Vineyards. So we stopped.

I wasn’t expecting much from a New Mexico winery, to be honest. However, this was a very pleasant visit and certainly interesting. Entering the tasting room, we were surprised to find five other people at the tasting bar already. I guess I expected the place to be empty. Sitting down, we were more surprised to find a list of 29 different wines on their menu! These included standards such as Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah but also wines such as Nebbiolo, Muscat, a something I have never heard of called White Merlot. (It’s right next to the White Zin on their menu, so perhaps similar.)

By the time we sat down, the other patrons had left and we had the very woman behind the tasting bar all to ourselves. My first question: do you grow all these grapes locally? Answer: unclear. The winery buys truckloads or trainloads of grape juice and what exactly is local and what purchased was not clear. Question: Why do you have both a syrah and shiraz on the menu? Answer: They are the same grape, just produced differently. (Not correct.) Question: I thought they were the same grape, just that Shiraz is the name the Australians used for the Syrah grape? (Correct.) Answer: Someone in here once told me Shiraz came from the Jews. Question: The Jews? Do you mean from Israel? Answer: Yes. (Correct answer is the term Shiraz comes from the ancient Persian city of Shiraz, which is where the grape was thought to have originally come from.)

Do you see what I mean? Very entertaining!

The wine itself was actually okay and we ended up purchasing a bottle of Chardonnay. The most interesting thing about the wine, to me, was that 1) their high-quality wines were not available for tasting and 2) they had low-quality bulk wine on sale for $2.50 a bottle or $16.66 for five liters. Just bring your own jug.

All in all, a pleasant experience and well worth 30 minutes. Make sure to drop by the next time you drive on I-10 between Las Cruces and Tucson.

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