New Mexican wine and grape growing started long before the first plantings were seen in California. Almost 400 years ago, circa 1629, the first grapevines planted were along the Rio Grande River by Monks, who brought vines from Spain. One might say the birth of American viticulture started in New Mexico. One long-standing winery in New Mexico is Gruet. Like their predecessors, this winery has imprinted on American viticulture with its profound influence on sparkling wine.
Gilbert Gruet established Gruet in 1984 when he decided to branch out from his successful Champagne house in Bethon, France, to the U.S. Knowing that Napa land values were expensive, he found the dry soils, high elevations, lack of humidity, and diurnal changes of weather between day and night of New Mexico an ideal place to locate the U.S. division of his winery. Gilbert sent his son Laurent and daughter Nathalie to run the U.S. operations.
Gruet’s first harvest was in 1987, followed by their first vintage in 1989. Gruet opened the winery and tasting room in Albuquerque in 1993. Their tasting room in Santa Fe opened in 2016. Today Laurent is the winemaker creating 18 different sparkling wines, and 13 still wines seen in the Gruet portfolio. Laurent is a self-taught winemaker.
Gruet utilizes grapes from three vineyards. All three have sandy loam soils. The three vineyards are Luna Rossa Vineyard, where 300 acres are planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Gruet Vineyard, which has 75 acres planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and The Pueblo of Santa Ana with 30 planted acres that include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.
This is an excerpt from an article I wrote on New Mexican Wine for FWT Magazine.