The New Mexico Wine Festival, in Bernalillo – our most popular and oldest – is coming up on Labor Day Weekend. We usually get a few guests that come in just for this event, but anyone here for another reason will usually attend this too upon finding out about it when they get here. This is a great festival, but not my favorite, and besides giving you all the details, I’ll give you the plus and minus of it all. I am saddened to say that due to a riff in the City Government in Bernalillo (so I hear from Bernalillo residents), there is absolutely NO information on the 2009 Bernalillo Wine Festival’s website to date about this year’s Wine Festival. The information you get here may be the best you will get at this point.
When – Labor Day Weekend
Saturday – Sunday – Monday
September 5, 6 & 7, 2009 (Please visit the NM Wine Festival Website for this year’s vital statistics!)
12 noon to 7pm
Where – Loretto Park
Camino del Pueblo, Bernalillo, NM
The PLUS of it – Most every Winery and Vineyard in New Mexico has a booth at this event, so this is a great chance to sample the wines of NM. I have written a post about NM wine, so you should check that out for the History of Wine in New Mexico.
There has been a great lineup of a very diverse group of musicians at past festivals, representing the genres of Latino, Folk, Country, Pop, Blues and just about everything else besides hard rock and rap.
The food vendors are also fantastic – Green Chili Cheese burgers, Smoked Turkey Legs, Portobella Mushroom Burgers to die for, and Blue Plate Special, of Albuquerque has always had a stand offering variety plated of fresh salads, cheeses, sandwiches that are very tasty and healthy fare.
The craft vendors are also of a high caliper, and you won’t see the usual plastic crap that is often offered to sale at these kinds of festivals. There will be cheese artisans, gourmet pecan vendors, jewelry vendors, book sellers, painters, leather workers and a host of others that will be interesting to visit and peruse their wares.
Festival are a fantastic place to people-watch, and this one is no exception. Some of the regular attendees at this event will dress up in wine/grape hats and costumes. They will get very creative – this is a hoot to behold!
Armed with some knowledge, you may overcome the bad points of the festival, so here you go…
The MINUS of it – Well, besides the fact that Bernalillo has yet, at this time of posting , not given any useful information about the 2009 festival, there are a few other minuses that you can deal with if forewarned.
First is the heat. I have never been to this festival when it wasn’t as hot as the hubs of hell. Before you go, buy some of those cute canvas wine carriers and load then up with frozen water bottles. Drink lots of water, then fill the carriers with
your favorite wines as the day goes on. This is important for many reasons. You need the water in the heat and this dry climate so you won’t dehydrate, and you WILL taste wines you will want to purchase and will be scrambling for something affordable and sturdy to carry the bottles in. St Clair Bistro in Albuquerque has a nice selection of wine carriers, as does Jackalope, and I think, Trader Joes.
Crowds – Arrive early! The lines for tasting get very long by mid afternoon. And – by late afternoon the tasters are getting pretty loopy, pushy and downright sloshed. I like to go early – do the tasting – get a bite to eat – go back and visit the non-wine vendors and then get the hell outa there. The last festival I attended we stayed until 5pm. When we left the grounds it was so crowded that you could not stroll the grounds anymore. People were so packed in that no one could see two feet ahead of them and folks were tripping over the tent lines and stakes. Upon exiting the grounds I saw a line of people waiting to get in that stretched so far down Camino del Pueblo that I was sure there were as many people in line as there were on the grounds. And there was only two hours left until they closed for the day. GET ME OUTA HERE!
Rain. This can happen. The festival is held right in the middle of our Southwest Monsoon Season. The clouds will take all day to build up and they will dump in the late afternoon to evening. If it does rain, it will be brief, but drastic, and if you can bring an umbrella, (small fold up type) you will be very grateful, as there will certainly be a stampede to any shelter, and there ain’t enough.
If you follow the basics listed above, you can have a great time at the festival. Also – wear/bring a wide brim hat and sunscreen. There is NOT a lot of shade. DON’T bring your kids in a stroller. Find a babysitter. This is not a good venue for strollers. They may say it is, but I’ve been there, and it is not.
I was hoping to tell you about taking the train, (Railrunner) from Belen, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but I do not know if there will be a shuttle from the stations in Bernalillo or not. I suppose you should check back to the Festival’s website closer to Labor Day.
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!