Drinking Old in the New

Scenes from the past in the present

Viva Las Vegas New Mexico.

The Land of Enchantment has a certain desert magic to it with its Latin flair and American Indian roots. Not just a bunch of sand, the state has ski resorts, wilderness areas, and many of the cities have a vibrant art and culinary scene. And the wine! The wine?? O.K. you got me there– the wine’s got a way to go yet, with all the sweet fruit and cheeky labels. But fortune has shined once again upon this lonely traveler and guided me to Vivác Winery, producers of fine New Mexican wines.

DSCN0303An oasis on the road to Santa Fe

Now that may sound like an oxymoron to many wine lovers, but you’ll have to trust me when I say that brothers Chris and Jesse Padberg are doing something pretty special down in the SW. First and foremost, they’ve decided to craft dry wines. In a market where many, if not most folks gravitate towards fruity-tooty wines, the two brothers have gone against the desert grain and created something that might be mistaken for old world Italian wines if you didn’t know better.

DSCN0297Producing wines from dolcetto, nebbiolo and sangiovese outside of Italy is always a gamble; one needs the right type of conditions and vineyard savvy in order to grow these types of grapes and actually make these wines for business purposes. It’s one thing to make a barrel or so of nebbiolo for friends and family, but it’s another thing entirely to sell this as one of your winery brands. In New Mexico.

And guess what? The wines, in my most humble and lip-stained opinion, were great. Not just decent, palatable, or fun. But really solid, serious wines that belong on a table alongside your gourmet meal.

The sangiovese had appropriately dusty and fine-grained texture with bright, sour-cherry fruit. The dolcetto was a smack of dark berry and touch of black fig while still remaining medium-bodied and dry. And their nebbiolo, surely the biggest test of them all, had fantastic, layered aromatics (as it should) and tasted maybe not quite like the wines of Piedmont (as it shouldn’t), but was still true to what this grape is — complex and lingering.

Kudos to this small, family winery in between Taos and Santa Fe. They’re proving that you can make stellar wine in lesser-known wine areas of the world, and I hope the surrounding populations embrace and appreciate this effort. As I tasted and chatted with the rest of the family, a local band played outside on the patio sending sweet sounds into the warm air. May that music — and their home-made chocolate — remain the only sweet thing produced at Vivác Winery.

* * *

And so, the road continues. It seemed fitting that my best wine experience thus far on this cross-country trip be in the sunny and dry confines of NM. After a long time in a cool and damp setting, it was “bright and fine”, as they say in the UK, to sip something a bit more serious in such a place. For many people, the desert is a harshDSCN0342 and unforgiving place. I suppose it is just that at times, but it’s always been good to me, and now I can happily say the same for the wine.

With warm and dry cheers,


Find out more about this unique winery and their products at www.VivacWinery.com


~ by Jared on October 1, 2009.

9 Responses to “Drinking Old in the New”

  1. So where can i try these wines? Love to compare with Italian.

    • Unfortunately, these aren’t distributed in Oregon… you’ll have to take a vaca. in the SW (not a bad idea in the Portland winter) or sip vicariously through me! 🙂

  2. Can Vivác Winery ship wines to Oregon residents?

    • Yes… Here’s the deal:

      2 bottle min. order
      5% discount on 6 bottles
      10% discount on a case (12 bottles)

      FREE shipping if you order a case

      Click on the link at the end of the article to contact the winery for orders.


      • I don’t know how we missed seeing this, but a google search JUST turned up with it! Thank you so much for sharing info about our hand crafted wines! How awesome of you!

      • Hi Michelle,
        Boy that was a long time ago, bit I’ll always remember your winery and the delicious vino…


  3. Miss you my friend!
    Another year older in 30 days!!
    Been drinking lots of Calif. wines, thinking about you and how I miss my friends in Portland!
    Hope to hear from you soon!!!

  4. Please note that I’m a proofreading fanatic, so I was hoping that your article wasn’t printed out with the word “desert” spelled as “dessert” as in your first sentence! Great article, this Winery belongs to my cousins! 🙂

    • Oh crap… crap, crap, crap. I suppose I could shuck-n-jive here and tell you I was referring to the wonderful pies and cakes of NM. But I just goofed- thanks for pointing that out! (I need an editor :()

      Your cousins have such a cool thing going there, Jennifer. I’m sure you’re proud to have a connection- and access to all those yummy wines…


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