We've been spending the holidays in New Mexico, enjoying a fresh fall of powdery snow just a couple of days before Christmas. Santa Fe is a wonderful place to be for the holidays. We've enjoyed spending time in the plaza and seeing all the beautiful luminarias that are put out on the sidewalks and rooftops for the holidays. These are small brown paper bags by the thousands with candles that are traditionally put out all over the city for Christmas Eve. What a great Christmas spirit this old and historic city has within its thick adobe walls.
ROOFTOP LUMINARIAS - SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
We've also enjoyed having local beers in the local watering holes downtown and drinking Chilean Carmenere and Brazilian Pinot Noir at the oldest restaurant in the city, El Farol, on Canyon Road. I think a couple of glasses of Carmenere even enhanced my appreciation of the beautiful and eclectic artwork that fills the galleries of Canyon Road. El Farol is a very popular place with live entertainment, great tapas, and an interesting South American based wine list. It can be a tough place to get into for dinner, so much so that it even prompted a problem in Game Theory called the El Farol Bar Problem. Game Theory apparently is popular among professional poker players and people who want to have dinner at El Farol during the holidays.
ONE OF THE WALL MURALS IN EL FAROL - SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
So far, I've really enjoyed the beers from Santa Fe Brewing Company, delving into their Pale Ale and ""State Pen Porter"". From a little further north, in Fort Collins CO, I had a nice ""Cutthroat Porter"" from the Odell Brewing Company and ""Seco Stout"" from Eske's Brewery in Taos. I've really been enjoying porters this winter with their thick texture and dark smoky, chocolaty malty flavors. I have a 5 gallon batch of porter brewing at home that I hope will be okay until I get back, so have been keen to try as many porters as I can find. I'm going to crack open a bottle of local bubbly this afternoon from the Gruet family winery, and have even seen some locally produced and bottled mimosas and kir imperial, which are variations on the theme of sparkling wines, and something that I've thought would be fun to tinker with in our cellar back at Monticello someday.
In life as in wine, I love to expand my palate and relish every opportunity to engage in new experiences, whether edible, potable, tactile, intellectual or emotional. New experiences are one of the ways to make your dynamo hum, as Frank Zappa would have said. Sometimes you can just make that dynamo hum with a little Brazilian Pinot Noir! Yesterday we visited the Vivac Winery tasting room on Highway 68 on our way back to Santa Fe from Taos. They had a nice big line-up of wines to taste from many different varietals - Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon to name a few. They had some nice blends as well - Divino and Diavolo. The winery is run by two brothers, who grew up in Dixon, NM and they built the tasting room themselves, which is pretty cool in and of itself. The lady in the tasting room (unfortunately I can't recall her name) was an excellent hostess and even gave me a couple of homemade sugar cookies for the kids. Great little winery to check out. www.vivacwinery.com .
I'm looking forward to visiting some more of the local wineries here in New Mexico while we're out here. I'm interested not just in the technical aspects of the local grapegrowing and winemaking techniques but also to get a glimpse of the people behind the barrels, which is sometimes as much fun as the wines themselves."