New Mexico’s Favorite New Combo? Wine and Hot Springs
Here’s where to find both across the state for a sip and soak.
The air is thick with the aroma of roasting green chiles and earthy piñon wood smoke here in the Land of Enchantment, where expansive sky and otherworldly landscapes converge. New Mexico is a place that famously marches to its own beat and doesn’t take itself too seriously. You can have an alien encounter in Roswell, retrace the fictionalized steps of Breaking Bad’s Walter White and Jesse Pink, or soar above the clouds at the world’s biggest hot air balloon festival, which takes place annually in Albuquerque.
But the state has some other unexpected experiences. For instance, you might not have known that you can—and very much should—try New Mexico’s unique, under-the-radar wines. Or that you should definitely combine the state’s wine scene with its plentiful hot springs. You could soak in either natural pools of warm, mineral-rich waters surrounded by high desert beauty or go for a cultivated bath in a resort or spa. Turns out pairing the two activities is genius—because really, what better way to banish a hangover than a leisurely rest in healing waters? From the south to the north, here are the best vineyards and hot springs to enjoy a restorative sip and soak.
Haven’t heard of New Mexican wine?
New Mexico’s wine scene actually started in 1629. After Europeans took the land from the Indigenous peoples who have lived here for over 10,000 years, they decided to bring over crops. Two Spaniards, Fray Garcîa de Zuñiga and Antonio de Arteaga, desperate for some sacramental booze, smuggled Mission grape vines out of Spain and into nowadays New Mexico, planting them just south of modern-day Socorro.
Today, New Mexico is home to over 50 wineries and vineyards and has three American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): Middle Rio Grande Valley, Mimbres Valley, and Mesilla Valley. Of those, one vineyard is now fully owned and operated by the Santa Ana Pueblo tribe, just outside of Albuquerque. Their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes are sent to Gruet, producers of iconic méthode Champenoise sparkling wines.
“The innovations in sparkling wines coming out of New Mexico are some of the top in the country,” says Christopher Goblet, executive director of the New Mexico Wine & Grape Growers Association. With hot days and cool nights, high elevations, and sandy soils, the regions’ unique terroir gives way to wines with distinct flavors.
The wine scene in New Mexico hasn’t always received the national attention it deserves, in part because of a series of setbacks—the historic 1864 flooding of the Rio Grande and 1920’s era Prohibition—that decimated the industry several times over. It’s also partly because nearly all of the wines produced in New Mexico stay in New Mexico, with the singular exception, Gruet, the state’s largest and most notable winery. It’s a bit of a “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” conundrum, but once that first taste hits your lips, those in the know come back for more.
One of the best ways to experience a myriad of labels is through wine festivals, which take place throughout the year. Notable events include the Taos Winter Wine Festival in February, Las Cruces Wine Festival in May, Albuquerque Wine Festival, the state’s largest wine festival held on Memorial Day weekend, and the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Festival in September, which is also the state’s top culinary festival. But another way to get a sample of the flavor is by journeying across the state—with a soak or two along the way.
Start your tasting in New Mexico’s deep south
Vineyards and hot springs stretch across New Mexico from the southern border all the way to Taos in the north, hitting Santa Fe and Albuquerque on the way and covering miles of scenic desert and pines in between.
One of the first notable vineyards, La Viña Winery, is the state’s oldest, established in 1977. It’s also just 15-20 miles away from the border of Texas. From here, head north to make more pit stops at Rio Grande Vineyards and Winery, Fort Selden Winery, and Shattuck Vineyard.
Soak in Truth or Consequences
Before you know it, you’ll have arrived in the quirky town of Truth or Consequences. Yup, that’s its real name, and it happens to have a long history as a place for peaceful soaking dating back to the times of the ancient Mimbres people.
It’s home to around nine bath houses, which draw naturally mineral-rich water from the aquifer on which the town sits. Riverbend Hot Springs is located right along the Rio Grande, providing the perfect ambiance and beautiful views. For a private soaking experience that also provides lodging, check into Sierra Grande, a Ted Turner Reserves hotel with private indoor and outdoor soaking pools and holistic wellness services on the edge of town.
Sip some more in Albuquerque
The next highlight in New Mexico wineries can be found around Albuquerque. The city’s old town once had 16 wineries in the 1880’s before the California wine industry took over, and today, the city’s wine scene is flourishing once more.
The first stop should be at Jaramillo Vineyards Tasting Room located in the historic 1909 Central Hotel in Belen, just six miles from their winery and vineyards. Next, Casa Rondeña Winery stands out as a must visit for those who love beautiful architecture along with their wine.
Stay the night at the nearby Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, where the property's fragrant lavender fields will lull you to sleep if the plentiful wine didn’t do the job. In the morning, continue north to Corrales Winery, where you can take in the spectacular views of the Sandia Mountains as you savor their rich, fruit-forward wines.
Head north to Santa Fe
From here, it’s about an hour’s drive north to get to Santa Fe, with its adobe architecture, vibrant art scene, and breathtaking mountain views. This next section offers a high-elevation wine tour, gorgeous vistas, and natural hot springs along the way.
Begin in downtown Santa Fe, at the Gruet Tasting Room at Hotel Saint Francis. Here, you can sample flights of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay-based sparkling wines and a small collection of still wines, including the Reserve Pinot Meunier Rose, made with grapes grown at Indigenously-owned-and-operated Santa Ana Pueblo vineyard.
Less than a block away, the Hervé Wine Bar serves as a lounge, bar, and restaurant, where you can sample D.H. Lescombes wines. Outside of town at Ten Thousand Waves, a unique mountain spa that feels like a Japanese onsen, enjoy private and public soaking pools.
Finish your sip and soak in Taos
Next, you’ll want to head to Taos. Though it’s often thought of as a picturesque ski town, in the summer, grape vines take over the valleys of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Along the scenic "Low Road to Taos," meandering through a valley beside the Rio Grande River, lies a cluster of four tasting rooms: Black Mesa Winery in Velarde (where you can try their lush, fruity pinot grigio or rich cabernet sauvignon), Vivac Winery, La Chiripada Winery in the village of Dixon, and Embudo Valley Winery.
Continue north to the Black Rock Hot Springs, a small grouping of natural hot springs bubbling alongside the Rio Grande when the river is low. The town of Arroyo Hondo, home to the hot springs, is just 13 miles from Taos, so stop for the night at fashion designer Raquel Allegra's recently renovated Airbnb Many Feathers Ranch, located in a quiet canyon at the base of Taos Ski Valley.
The next morning, head back down south to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, where you’ll want to spend a night or two indulging in the geothermal soaking pools and luxurious spa experiences.