La Chiripada means “A stroke of luck,” “A lucky fluke,” or “A lucky accident.” Whichever definition you prefer, it was a real stroke of luck for my husband and I to meet Pat Johnson, owner, who was working the tasting room. The reason this was a stroke of luck is that Mr. Johnson isn’t really too hands on in the winery or tasting room anymore. He told us that “everyone” had COVID so he was “stuck” running the tasting room. Thankfully we weren’t the only people visiting that afternoon or I probably would have apologized for bothering him and left. As it turns out, he has a dry sense of humor, and I can’t be sure that most of what he told me was true, so I’m just going to tell you what I was able to fact check and give you my thoughts on La Chiripada’s wine offerings.
My first introduction to La Chiripada came through the homepage of their website where they proudly proclaim to be “New Mexico’s Oldest Winery.” Now, I’m not here to start a turf war, but there’s another winery in the state that also claims to be the oldest. You can read about it HERE and decide for yourself.
La Chiripada started its winery in 1977 by planting vinifera rootstock that could survive and thrive in the high-altitude conditions of Northern New Mexico. The winery sits at 6100 feet above sea-level, and the vineyard provides luscious sandy loam for the vines to feed on. Harsh winters aside, the sunny days and cool nights of the somewhat short growing season were favorable to the vines, and they were able to produce wine-worthy grapes by their fourth year. So, in 1981, the Johnsons began making wine and they opened their doors to the public 1982. In addition to the cold-climate cultivars (varieties), La Chiripada, like many wineries, source other varieties from further south in the Mimbres Valley.
In addition to Pat Johnson and his brother, Michael, La Chiripada has seen several winemakers; including Pat’s son, Josh, who is now the winemaker and owner of Embudo Valley Vineyards. The current winemaker, Katie Hagan, joined the La Chiripada team in 2020. She is an exciting young female winemaker who is a great addition to the growing number of amazing female winemakers in New Mexico. Mr. Johnson frequently referred to Katie as “Irish” so thought I was going to get this cool interview with an Irish girl. Unfortunately, Katie was included in the “everyone” who had COVID the day I visited, so my interview was going to have to wait.
As luck would have it, though, I met Katie at the recent New Mexico Wine Growers Annual Conference just as this article was scheduled to post. No worries! You will definitely be hearing more about Katie in a future Wine of Enchantment post.
For those of you who scroll past the narrative to get to the wine selections, here we go! La Chiripada produces several wines of note, so you MUST go visit to find your favorite. Nonetheless, here are my recommendations.
2019 Rio Embudo Red: I tried this because I was told it was the most popular blend—and I believe it! The wine is a nice off-dry blend of Leon Milo, Dechaunac, and Baco Noir all grown in the La Chiripada vineyard. It’s beautiful color with a hint of earthiness comes from the addition of Ruby Cabernet grown in the Mimbres Valley. For my non-red wine drinking friends, you might like this one. It’s low tannin with a very berry front and a smooth as silk finish. This one can be paired with Indian, Thai, or other Asian dishes that aren’t too spicy.
Other Reds: As I’ve said before, I have a set of criteria for deciding what to taste when I’m out visiting so I chose not to taste any other reds. I will say, though, that La Chiripada has an extensive red wine menu that includes a number of varietals—Dolcetto, Zinfandel, Tempranillo (Limited Edition), and Petite Sirah. There are also some blends that sound intriguing. The Non-Vintage Cañoncito Red is a fruity red wine designed to pair with a variety of New Mexican foods. The 2020 Vintners’ Reserve Red, which I wish I’d tried, spent time in Hungarian oak and is a blend of Tempranillo, Ruby Cab, and Petite Sirah.
2021 Winemakers’ Select White: Yes, please! I LOVE a dry, high acid, fruity white blend. How can you go wrong with Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Chardonnell, Riesling, Viognier, and Pinot Grigio? I really enjoyed this wine. The winery menu suggests to pair it with coconut basil ceviche. Well, that’s a bit too specific for me. Might I recommend pairing it with a couch, a blanket, and your favorite bingeworthy television show?
Embudo Blanco: The minute Mr. Johnson told me this was the winery’s most popular of all the wines, my palate prepared for the sweetness to come. And it did—but not in a syrupy sweet way. The wine has a pleasant acidity to balance the sweetness, but here’s the kicker: It’s an apple wine with 10% white field grapes. You can drink this one year round. It tastes like Thanksgiving–seriously! I can also see myself sipping this on a summer evening out on the patio. True confessions: This is the one I’m drinking while writing the La Chiripada post!
Neither of the dessert wines fit my tasting criteria for this trip, but for my dessert wine drinking friends, La Chiripada has two to choose from. A 2018 New Mexico Port and a 2019 Vino de Oro. Try them out when you go to visit!
La Chiripada is located at Hwy 75 CR 1119 #8, in Dixon, NM.
The winery is open 7 days a week from 11:00 – 5:00. You can go for a tasting or purchase bottles. They are not offering wine-by-the-glass, nor do they have any seating at this time. Don’t let that stop you from stopping in. You can never go wrong with a tasting and they are complimentary at La Chiripada!
As always, I recommend you call before you go—just in case. You can reach La Chiripada by phone at (505)579-4437/ (800)528-7801 OR you can email them by clicking this link: La Chiripada
I also want to mention that La Chiripada has 5 different, extremely well-priced wine clubs for you to enjoy. I’m a real believer in wine club memberships, so I hope you check theirs out.
The La Chiripada tasting room is full of interesting wines, pictures, art pieces, jewelry, etc. It is the epitome of a northern New Mexico (think Santa Fe/Taos) boutique. The property was lovely in the winter, and I know it is even more so in the spring and summer. I can’t wait to make another visit up that way.
If you’ve been keeping up with my Wine of Enchantment travels, then you know I’ve been on a mission to identify the unique characteristics of New Mexico’s high-altitude wines. In case you missed that I spent a couple of days up in the Dixon/Velarde/Taos area, check out my reviews of Vivác Winery, Embudo Valley Vineyards, and El Alamo Winery.
There’s still one “high altitude” winery to write about: Black Mesa. It should be coming your way in a couple of weeks.
Last, but not least, please go to my ARCHIVE PAGE to catch upon all things wine–especially in New Mexico!
Until next time…
One thought on “Get Lucky!”
Both LaChiripada and Ponderosa Vnyds made back in those early days some very fine dry or near/dry Rieslings. Riesling is particularly well suited for growing in Northern NM and can sometimes show that petrol character that Riesling lovers really love.