Grapes, New Mexico, New Mexico, New Mexico True, US Travel, Vineyards, Wine, Wine Tasting, Wineries

Love at First Flight

The Jaramillo Vineyards homepage is very simple. It reads:

Welcome to Jaramillo Vineyards, producers of quality wines, located in the Middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Owners Robert and Barbara Jaramillo invite you to try our line of outstanding wines, see for yourself why we call it ‘love at first flight.’

I first took notice of Jaramillo Vineyards at the Memorial Weekend wine festival in Las Cruces because I learned that they were producing a Norton wine. Norton grapes are as American as you can get, and I’ve mentioned many times that I was first introduced to Norton wine on the eastern shore of Maryland, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that many New Mexico vineyards are growing the Norton grape.  I tasted the Jaramillo Norton and my palate screamed for joy! I bought a couple of bottles to take home thinking that my impression might have been somewhat overshadowed by my excitement of finding a Norton wine in New Mexico. I got home, put the wine in my wine fridge, and waited. A couple of weeks later, my husband put some steaks on the grill, and we invited family over for the evening. I nonchalantly poured the Jaramillo Norton wine into carafes, trying to contain my excitement, and waited for the comments. In my family there are ALWAYS comments! I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that my highly opinionated family would comment on the wine without any prompting and their comments would be an accurate representation of how they felt about it. I hadn’t shown any of them the bottle or provided any background to the wine. For all they knew, it was a basic red wine to be served with steaks.

I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by the passionate opinions expressed. Every single person LOVED the Jaramillo Norton wine and I have promised so many bottles that I will likely be picking up a case of it at the next wine festival.

With the purchased bottles consumed, all I could think about was when I could get to Belen to visit Jaramillo and purchase some more Norton. I was also eager to see if their other wines could live up to the Norton. In mid-July I finally made it to the Jaramillo Tasting Room and…wow!

I have to put in a little disclaimer here. I became so involved with my wine tasting experience that I may or may not have forgotten that I was supposed to be interviewing Barb Jaramillo. Consequently, there may be some “borrowed” background information from the Jaramillo Vineyard website.

Winemaker Robert Jaramillo, like several of his colleagues in the New Mexico wine industry, turned to winemaking for something to do with his spare time. Although Robert’s father and grandfather left a remarkable legacy of New Mexico winemaking, Robert took a few detours to get there. After serving in the Navy, marrying Barb, becoming an American Airlines pilot, and then an alfalfa farmer, Robert settled on planting a vineyard. Coming back to his roots, so to speak.

Having become quite the wine connoisseur from all of his world travels with the Navy and as an airline pilot, Robert wanted to see if the Old World grapes (vitis vinifera) would grow in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. There were a lot of doubters that thought the area was only suitable for hybrids. First of all, there are some amazing hybrid grape varieties in the United States that deserve more than an eyeroll from “purists.” Secondly, Robert proved them wrong. You can grow vitis vinifera in the Middle Rio Grande Valley.

Speaking of hybrids…I just have 2 words: Crimson Cabernet –a hybrid variety of Norton and Cabernet Sauvignon. I tasted it straight out of the barrel and, well, there are no adequate words to describe this brilliant wine. It was almost ready to be bottled when I tasted it, so it may be available soon! Barb told me that Robert is passionate about bringing out new wines. She even hinted that there would be 5 to 6 new ones released this summer. I don’t know what wines they’ll bring to the wine festival, but Jaramillo may be the best reason I can think of to get your tickets now!

On the day I visited, Robert was busy in the winery. I didn’t get a chance to speak to him, but Barb is passionate about Robert, so I learned a lot about him, his winemaking, and his passion for the industry. Robert is an interesting guy, and you can read more about him on the website.

Since most of us experience wine from a winery’s tasting room, I have to write about this amazing space that Jaramillo Vineyards has renovated in the historic 1909 Central Hotel in Belen, New Mexico. It took them five years to complete the renovation and it is so well done. The tasting room is a bright, airy, space that feels very modern but has maintained some historic charm. Seating is available at the bar or at one of the several tables.

Now for the good stuff! The Jaramillo wines! I’ve already raved on and on about the Norton and hinted at the brilliance of the new Crimson Cab but there is soooo much more!

I wish I had the time, not to mention the stamina, to taste every single one of the Jaramillo wines during my visit. Considering the quality of the wines I did taste, I think I could reasonably say that you can’t go wrong with any of the wines you purchase from them, but here are the ones I tried.


2014 Tempranillo Reserva: A smooth, barrel-aged (American Oak) dry wine. It is full-bodied with flavors of black fruits and vanilla. I may have mentioned before that Tempranillo is among my top 5 favorite varietals.

Barbera: The Barbera is Barb’s favorite wine, and I don’t think it has to do just with the name. It’s a medium-bodied dry varietal that I found to be very fruit forward with hints of clove and nutmeg. For people who love red wine but fight with the tannins, this is the wine for you. Barbera is a low-tannin, high acidity wine that is delightful. Also, this wine won a Silver medal at the NM State Fair.

Red Portal: If you want to serve tapas on the patio, sit around the pool in the evening, or need to take some wine to a party, Red Portal is the perfect choice. It is light-bodied, refreshing, and super fruity.


Petit Verdot Rosé: In my last post, Stop And Smell the Rosés, I mentioned this wine. It is such a wonderfully light, dry, refreshing Rosé for summer.

Charitable Wines

Many wineries these days are great about recognizing charities and creating wines specifically as a way of raising awareness and donating money to local causes. Jaramillo has produced wines in their Judy Chicago line.  Thirty percent of the sales go to Judy Chicago’s Through the Flower non-profit to support The Belen Art Space.

Judy Chicago New Mexico White: Robert custom-blended this delicious white blend specifically for Judy Chicago.  This dry, crisp, medium bodied blend is unoaked and has a flavor profile that includes yellow apple, pear, and melon.

Judy Chicago New Mexico Red: A custom blended dry, red wine of Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Franc, was an instant hit with me when I first tasted it at the wine festival. It is full-bodied with the beautiful, deep color of black fruits, but sporting a hint of strawberry.

Other Award Winners

I had the opportunity to be one of the judges for the State Fair wine competition this year. Of course, all the judging is blind so I have no idea if I tasted any of these, but they are worth mentioning because they are medal winners.

Summer Sombra: Gold Medal Winner. A sweet white wine.

Native Sun: Silver Medal Winner. A sweet, spicy red wine made from American grapes.

Adobe Red: Silver Medal Winer. A sweet red blend to pair with your spicy Mexican dishes.

Don Salo: Silver Medal Winner. A port-style wine honoring Robert’s father.

Norton: Bronze Medal Winner. (A decision I don’t understand. It is definitely gold medal worthy!)


I have to mention Annalise Theisen. She is an amazing young woman who hails from Alaska and has found her niche as the Assistant Winemaker for Robert. I had the honor of sitting on a wine judging panel with Annalise and I visited her in the Jaramillo Winery for a tour. Stay tuned to Wine of Enchantment for a profile of Annalise and other up and coming female winemakers. Annalise will soon be bottling her very first wine–a Sauvignon Blanc–and I couldn’t be more excited for her! The picture above is Annalise getting me a taste of the Crimson Cabernet out of the tank.

Other Good-To-Know Stuff!

WHERE: 114 Becker Avenue in Belen, New Mexico

WHEN: Thursday ~ Sunday from Noon to 5:00 p.m.

WINE CLUB: Jaramillo has a great wine club. You join by purchasing 6 bottles of wine and then 24 more bottles (2 cases) in one year. All the wines are discounted (except Judy Chicago) and there are a lot of other VIP type benefits. Check out the wine club here.

CAN’T WAIT?: If you want the wine NOW, and you just can’t get there or don’t want to have your wine shipped, Jaramillo wines are available at several well known retailers around the state. You can find their wines here.

WINE FESTIVALS: Jaramillo participates in several wine festivals during the year. Please make a point of visiting their booth at the Harvest Wine Festival in Albuquerque or Las Cruces over Labor Day weekend.

Final Thoughts

As with many of the wineries I’ve visited in New Mexico, there is nothing to replace a visit to the tasting room. It’s hard to explain to people outside of New Mexico just how amazing your experience will be. At Jaramillo, you will be greeted and treated as a long-time friend–even if it’s your first visit. The tasting room managers are often spouses of the winemakers, co-owners of the business, or other family members who are well-versed in the wine offerings. They will answer your questions and help you select the perfect wine for any occasion. Please let them know that Wine of Enchantment sent you!

Insider Tip–If you are going to Jaramillo Vineyards for a wine tasting and you have the whole day, go on down to Black’s Smuggler winery in Bosque and visit Tony and Maryann Black. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from Belen. You can read more about them in my Bad Boys and Wicked Women post.

Anytime you visit a winery or tasting room anywhere in the world –but especially New Mexico– I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me an email.

Until next time…



One thought on “Love at First Flight

  1. Pingback: A Riesling for Everything | Wine of Enchantment

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