I recently had the pleasure of meeting Franklin and Desiree Simon when I just happened upon their winery one afternoon. By “happened upon,” I mean that I was looking up tasting room hours online in order to plan a little tasting trip with my son. I thought I knew all the wineries in my neck of the woods (meaning desert), but I had never heard of FORT SELDEN WINERY. It popped up as a “winery near me” on Google. (It’s scary how Google sometimes knows what I’m looking for before I do!)
Located in the valley of the stunning Robledo Mountains, Fort Selden Winery is all about a peaceful lifestyle where people come together to enjoy everything that wine has to offer. In 2005, with the proceeds from the sale of property in their native Netherlands, Franklin and Desiree broke ground on their soon-to-be dream in southern New Mexico.
With the help of their children, the Simon family planted their first grapes in May of 2005. From rootstock supplied by New Mexico Vineyards in Deming, NM, Franklin and Desiree chose Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Barbera grapes to launch their label.
Fort Selden Winery harvests their grapes each year with the help of family, friends, and enthusiastic volunteers who know they are part of something special. Once harvested, Franklin makes, bottles, and sells his wine just feet away from where his grapes are grown. You will not find Fort Selden Wine in a grocery store anywhere and you can’t purchase it on-line. The only way you can say you’ve tasted this delicious wine is by visiting the tasting room.
WHEN YOU VISIT THE TASTING ROOM
You will enter a relaxing space filled with plants, tables, a couch, and a bookcase with lots of books—many written in Dutch.
There are wine-tastic views of the Robledos, the vineyard, and the changing colors of the desert.
You will engage in a delightful conversation with Franklin and/or Desiree—It’s a great day when you can get them both! Franklin is a kind man with sparkling eyes and a reserved smile. Desiree does not know a stranger. She will greet you with a huge smile and speak to you as if you’ve been friends for years.
You will be offered the choice of SIX wines to taste (my recommendation) OR a glass of wine FOR ONLY $5.00!
The Fort Selden tasting room is a REAL tasting room. By that, I mean, you visit in order to taste the wine, or enjoy a glass, and then buy a bottle or two for your personal enjoyment at home. The winery doesn’t provide open bottle sales. In other words, you can’t drop in with a friend and a pizza and expect to share a bottle of wine there. Franklin is wonderfully conscientious about the safety and welfare of his customers. Fort Selden isn’t a place you would go to “hang out.” It’s a place you go to taste and talk about #NewMexicoTrue wine from a winemaker who has perfected his craft!
Because the Simon family makes their wine in small batches, you can often be surprised by what’s on the tasting menu—or maybe I should say what’s NOT on the menu. Some of their wines have been sold out when I’ve gone back for a bottle. The day I visited, Desiree was serving Malbec, Shiraz (Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, American Red (a blend), Tempranillo, Gewürztraminer, and their famous Madre D’eira (port wine).
On my first visit to Fort Selden Winery, I bought 2 bottles of everything except the Madre D’eira—and that’s only because I’m not a port drinker. (I’ve tried! Send me an email and tell me why I need to hone my palate for a good port.)
As a wine enthusiast who appreciates a dry red more than you can know, I had an immediate appreciation for Franklin. My personal favorite(s) when I drop in for a visit are the Tempranillo and the Malbec. At home among friends, I’ve been known to uncork Fort Selden’s American Red. I’d love to tell you what grapes are in there and at what ratio, but, when asked, Franklin just smiled sweetly and shrugged his shoulders. American Red is a great get-together-on-the-patio wine because it appeals to all types of palates. Not too dry. Not too sweet. Not to bold. Not to light. Fruit forward and full of flavor, you and your friends will enjoy talking about the notes and nuances of the American Red.
THINGS TO KNOW
Location: 1233 Fort Selden Road, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88007
Hours: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Noon to 5:00 p.m.
IMPORTANT: At this time, visitors must be fully vaccinated to enter the tasting room and interact with Franklin and Desiree. If you want to double check, you can always call and see if their policies have changed.
My favorite time to go is a Sunday afternoon and I usually plan about 60 – 90 minutes to sip and chat. The winery doesn’t have any food for sale, but you are allowed to bring in your own. I rarely leave home for any tasting room without a little charcuterie—just in case!
Here’s some great news: If you are passing through the area in the middle of the week. Give Franklin and Desiree a call. Let them know you read about their winery on Wine Of Enchantment. If they are available, they may be willing to open for a tasting and/or tour.
Whether you are #NewMexicoTrue or a visitor to the Land of Enchantment, the Fort Selden area, itself, has a lot to offer. The winery is right across the street from the Fort Selden Historic Site. The land on which the United States Army built Fort Selden has a remarkable history. In 1865, Buffalo Soldiers were sent to Fort Selden to help keep the peace and protect westward travelers. It was eventually abandoned, but the remains can still be visited.
If you’re a hiker, photographer, historian, or just lost along I-25, you will find something to appreciate about the area. There are many activities for visitors and you can find them listed on the Fort Selden website.
Whatever brings you to this part of New Mexico, come for the wine and stay for the story. You’ll understand why…
Fort Selden wine is truly “Wine Worth Defending.”
Until next time #CHEERS