Our vineyard is located in the Pyramid Valley just east of Lordsburg, New Mexico and sits at an elevation of just over 4500'. The hot, sunny days and cool, enchanting evenings often differ in temperature by 30 to 40 degrees or more. The soil is sandy, loamy, and nutrient rich with excellent drainage, which makes the vines less susceptible to root rot and other diseases. It is this terroir that makes it possible to grow the best grapes in New Mexico. Our Viticulturalist, Emmanuel Lescombes, manages the day-to-day operations of the vineyard, which produces between 7 and 10 tons per acre on average. We currently have 180 acres cultivated with varietals that include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Syrah, Muscat, Malvasia Bianca, and many others. Our vines are planted in a specific spacing of 8'X5' which allows over 1000 vines per acre, as well as allows for proper sunlight and watering. We also carefully prune the vines each year during the dormant months to ensure the best possible growth. We are currently in the process of expanding our vineyards and plan to have over 220 acres by the end of the year.
The harvest begins in mid-August and lasts through the end of September. The grapes are harvested by a high-tech grape harvester, and on rare occasions are hand-picked from the vine. The grapes arrive by the truckload and are dumped into the grape hopper and conveyed into the de-stemmer. Inside the de-stemmer, the clusters of grapes are separated from the stems when they are struck by paddles. The loose grapes fall down into the crusher which lightly breaks the skin of the grape for easier pressing. From here the grapes are sent into the winery to be pressed if they are white grapes, and for red grapes, they are sent for fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The partially crushed white grapes are pumped in from the destemmer to twin 20 ton Bucher presses. Red grapes will not be pressed for 3 to 15 days after primary fermentation. Our pneumatic press uses a bladder that fills with air to press the grapes against the bottom of the chamber. The pressure exerted is a gentle 30 psi. At this pressure, the skin of the grapes will not be pressed too hard, which would cause the resulting wine to have an off taste and overly tannic properties. The juice runs through grids inside the chamber and into a pipe to be pumped directly to a storage tank. It takes approximately 2 to 3 hours to extract the juice from 20 tons of grapes. Juice from 20 tons of grapes is approximately 3,600 gallons. The grape skins and seeds are emptied to the hopper under the presses, and is conveyed outside, where it will be recycled as mulch or animal feed.
Our winery is nestled in the heart of the Mimbres Valley in Deming, located in southwest New Mexico, America's oldest wine producing region. We have continuously been rated in the top 100 largest wineries in the United States for over the past 20 years. The winery is situated on 15 acres and has a 500,000 gallon capacity. Our winery is composed of over 50 tanks, each up to 16,200 gallons in capacity. Many of the tanks are equipped with computer controlled temperature jackets. An even temperature during fermentation and maturation ensure a consistently high quality product. After aging in stainless steel tanks, many red wines are matured in oak barrels to smooth out its' tannins. Each oak barrel holds approximately 60 gallons, and is composed of either American or French Oak. The wine must remain in barrel anywhere between 3 months to 2 years. and each barrel costs anywhere from $300 to $900 and last 3 to 5 years. When the wine is ready to bottle, it must be refiltered to ensure that it is sterile. If any bacteria or yeast are left in the bottle, the wine might referment if there is any sugar left in the wine, otherwise, it will turn to vinegar. Our plate filter removes all particles larger than .35 microns (1 micron is 1/1000 of a millimeter). We also use a secondary filter, a cartridge filter, to be absolutely sure that all particles have been removed. Finally, the wine is ready to be bottled! Our bottling capacity peaks at over 200,000 cases annually, and we are the only winery in the state which offers contract processing and bottling for other wineries in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. The bottling line is made up of many different pieces of equipment. First the bottles go through a bottle rinser which pressure sprays water into the bottles to ensure they are perfectly clean. Next, the bottles are filled with wine. The wine is pumped from it's holding tank behind the bottling line into the filler, which fills the bottles with exactly the right amount of wine. Then, the bottle is conveyed to the corker, which takes each bottle, one-by-one, compresses a cork and inserts it into the bottle. Next a rinser cleans off any residue on the outside of the bottle, and then, the bottles are dried by warm air so that the labels can be applied. Finally the bottles enter our packaging machine, which places a capsule on the top of the bottle and applies pressure to tighten it to protect the cork, and automatically labels the bottles as they exit the machine. Lastly, the bottles are taken off the line and packed into cases and stacked onto pallets to be stored in our climate controlled warehouse.
Our St. Clair Tasting Rooms and Bistros
Our tasting rooms, located in Deming, Las Cruces and Albuquerque are open for wine tasting 7 days a week. Our tasting rooms offer wine flights daily featuring New Mexico's finest wines. Be our guest for lunch or dinner at our Albuquerque or Las Cruces Bistro locations, where you will be greeted with a relaxing atmosphere and opportunity to taste our wide array of New Mexico wines paired with epicurean style fare. At all locations, you will find a friendly, knowledgeable staff that can suggest ideal pairings for your next dinner or get-together. Browse our extensive gift gallery, and select a bottle or two of award-winning wine to take home! Whether for an intimate meeting, business lunch or private event, our locations are available to assure a memorable, unique experience.