From downtown Albuquerque, drive north on 4th St. past junk shops, small used car lots, Dollar stores and tire stores. Turn west (left) on Osuna and immediately you will enter old rural Albuquerque: a world of alfalfa fields and horses. In a couple of blocks you will cross the historic Guadalupe Trail, then look to the right and soon you will see Casa Rondeña Winery; a scene straight from the Mediterranean. This is no hokey, phony "Tuscan" style mansion, but the real deal. The winery buildings were designed and built by John Calvin, a native Burqueño who is an architect,a trained Spanish classical guitarist and the winemaker.
Not just one of the most beautiful scenes in Albuquerque, Casa Rondeña also makes some of the best wines in the southwest. The signature red wine, 1629, is a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon; named in honor of the first vinifera plantings in North America, right here in New Mexico. Another favorite is the Meritage, a dry red served in many local restaurants. Even if you are a die-hard red wine drinker, try the white Viognier. The grapes are grown on the premises and it converted me.
Whether you're visiting Albuquerque - or you live here and have visitors in from out of town - be sure to bring them by the tasting room and take your glass of wine out by the pond in back. To see more of this gorgeous, rural northwest part of Albuquerque, afterwards continue west of Osuna to Rio Grande and head south past Los Poblanos - a historic farm and Inn.
And now here's a real insider tip:
My husband and I like to park at Casa Rondena and hike up the old - still used - acequia that runs north along the east side of the winery. These irrigation ditches were originally dug by Pueblo Indians that lived in this area before the Spanish arrived in the 1600s. The Spanish expanded them and later farmers continued to keep them up. They still flow and water the farms, yards, and natural wild lands you will pass through on your walk. I promise you won't come to the end of this ditch no matter how long you walk.
And we like to stop for our glass of wine when we get back to the winery.