Head south from Las Cruces on NM 28 and you'll find a rural countryside with pecan trees reaching overhead, and onions, chiles, and vineyards filling the fields. All Mesilla Valley Wine Trail wineries have tasting rooms, tours, and are usually closed midweek. Stop into Chope's Bar & Café in La Mesa for a bite to eat en route.
The first winery worth a look is the Rio Grande Vineyard & Winery, just over 4 mi south of Old Mesilla. The comfortably appointed tasting room has a fine view of the Organ Mountains, and proprietor Gordon Steel is congenial and informed. Try the Queue Tendre white or the dry Syrah. 5321 NM 28, at mile marker 25, 88005. 575/524–3985. www.riograndewinery.com.
The next stop, about 20 mi farther, is New Mexico's oldest winery—established by Franciscan monks
in the 1600s— La Viña Winery, run by proprietors Denise and Ken Stark. La Viña hosts a popular wine festival in October, and a Blues & Jazz Festival, usually in early May. A wide variety of wines is produced here—from a crisp Viognier, to Pinot Noir, to White Zinfandel. 4201 S. NM 28, La Union, 88021. 575/882–7632. www.lavinawinery.com.
Finally, 28 mi down, you may not notice, but you will have crossed into Texas and the town of Canutillo, home of the newest winery in the bunch, Zin Valle Vineyards. They favor sweet wines, such as Gewürztraminer made from grapes grown on-site. 7315 S. NM 28, Canutillo, 79835. 915/877–4544. www.zinvalle.com.