New Mexico
Northern New Mexico, being high dessert (New Mexicans actually point out that their state would be bigger than Texas if similarly flattened out), actually has a more variable climate than the Texas Hill Country. Wineries tend to be far flung, but the wines on the whole are amazingly convincing. Gruet, a sparkling wine firm based in Albuquerque, and founded by Frenchmen from Champagne no less, must surely be among the most improbable wineries in the country. While their countrymen have made major investments in California, these brothers took a detour. Gruet is one of the finest producers of sparkling wine in the country, and a favorite of adventurous restaurants from coast to coast. Albuquerque is also home to one of my favorite wine festivals in the world. The New Mexico Wine Fair is usually held on Labor Day weekend, right around the Route 66 festival and one of many ballooning events. With the spectacular mountain scenery, the sophisticated southwestern cuisine, and a glass of Gruet Blanc de Blancs, it is a wine experience like no other in the world. (Wine/Appellations)