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  • Writer's pictureSharon Wix

Ponderosa Winery

Updated: Jul 3

One of the most incredible things about last weeks wine festival was finding a new wine I really enjoyed and learning about the winery. [including the owners, who also operate it themselves] But... [and] most importantly, I discovered the vineyards location!! [which was not to far from the campground where we were staying for the summer] So on our next trip to the mountains, Ponderosa Winery was definitely on the top of my list!! Shawn [my hubby] is such a good sport.. I say "I found a new winery..." and he is always totally on board!!

I'm almost certain we went to Jemez several times [to take a beautiful drive up into the mountains, explore the tunnels, and grab lunch in the little town] before I realized the "Ponderosa" billboard was a sign for the winery. You may think that the big words "wine tasting" underneath the winery name would have given it away but [here's your sign!! Haha] thankfully, I had just learned about this vineyard [from the wine festival] and now it all made perfect sense to me, so let's go!!

This gorgeous, sweet, little vineyard is located in Ponderosa, NM... "nestled" in the Ponderosa Valley. [which is just South of Jemez] I learned in a spotlight article that was published by Viva Vino, that Ponderosa Winery is the largest Riesling producing vineyard in NM!! [not that I knew what Riesling was at this time] They sit at 5,800 feet above sea level and are on deep well-drained volcanic ash deposits... this along with the cool nights and hot days is what gives Ponderosa wine it's deliciously unique taste.

Owners Henry and Mary Street purchased three acres in the valley in 1976, to be used as a camping retreat. After learning about the valleys wine history and then coming across several small lingering vineyards, the seed [so to speak] was planted and it didn't' take long until they started preparations to open their own vineyard. Henry decided to take a grape growing course and began researching different varieties while Mary studied accounting. Their first crop was harvested and sold to another winery in 1982. After years of commercial grape production, Henry and Mary wanted to slow down and "retire" doing what they loved... making good and affordable wine!! In 1991 the charming [not too big, not too small, but just right] Ponderosa Winery building was constructed and the wine tasting room was opened for business!!

When you get out of your car there's a good chance you'll be greeted by any number of friendly K-9's [or felines] but if it's nap time, they may not even lift their heads off their porch beds. Henry is usually around working on something or the other and Mary runs the tasting room. [tastings are still free.. up to 5 per person, which is unheard of in this day and age] She is extremely knowledgable about their many "award winning New Mexico wines" [as well as, those at other local wineries and upcoming wine events] and happily answers any questions. The quaint little gift shop is filled with unique wine themed souvenirs and crafts by local artists.

Example.. a t-shirt that reads: "It doesn't matter if your glass is half full or half empty as long as you have the rest of the bottle!!" [I don't know why I didn't buy this, with all that positivity just oozing off the printed letters!!]

One time when I was there for a tasting, there were several of us sitting at the bar. We were chit chatting about who knows what, but I mentioned something about loving hotdogs and bologna sandwiches. [those of you who know me personally can attest] Mary chirped in that she had the perfect wine to pair with a bologna sandwich. Now I admit I didn't [and honestly still don't] know much about wine pairings, because you usually just like what you like, but I was game.. [and who am I to question the cultivated knowledge of Mary!?] I took home a bottle of Summer Sage [tried it almost immediately] and guess what!? Mary totally nailed it!!!

Then after [or before] you complete your free wine tasting, purchase the most perfect gift, [for yourself or someone else] and [of course] purchase wine to take home with you, walk around a vineyard a little bit. They don't mind if you take a gander at the vines, you can even take selfies with them!! HA!! You can also take a close up look at the vintage trucks they have sitting around... this place truly is a hidden gem!! Just be respectful of their personal residence. [across the driveway]

Ponderosa Winery is, to this day one of my favorite wineries. [if you couldn't tell] We visit and I stock up every time we are in town, or just traveling through ABQ. I also order wine [to have shipped wherever we are] regularly so that I am never without [or at-least not long without] my favorite Ponderosa red wine... Chuparrosa!! This is a delectable berry fruit, full bodied wine with 10% residual sugar!! It always surprises me that I love it so much [like my 3rd favorite wine ever] since I am no longer a sweet[er] wine lover, but there is just something about the taste of Chuparrosa that it unlike anything else.

I genuinely hope you are one day able to visit this special little vineyard that seems like it's been frozen in time. If not, check out their website to see the current releases then give Mary a call [yes, on the phone that she answers every-time... she may ask to call you back if she is with customers but she does, every-time] to place an order. We agreed while talking on said phone that since she already offers discounts on case and half case orders and coupled with the free wine tastings that it is more than enough to entice my wonderful readers!! She will let you know that shipping has been hiked up recently by UPS but she'll give you a total before you finalize your order. Don't let UPS inflation deter you, the "juice" is definitely worth the squeeze!!

Next Wednesday Wine with Wixy will be back to visit yet another incredible vineyard... way out in the middle of nowhere!! I was lucky to find it by complete accident!!


Cheers to you my wine loving friends, and TTFN!!

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Jun 27

I rarely go to NM but if I go back again.... this will definately be on my list of places to explore! Thank you for this suggestion!

Sharon Wix
Sharon Wix
Jun 27
Replying to

Please let me know if you do!! Jemez has a collection of fun, beautiful things to do.. mountain top restaurants and one of the most beautiful hot springs I've ever seen.. Giggling Hot Springs.. I even love the name!!

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