It was a beautiful, crisp sunny day, about 60 degrees. The babies had just taken a good nap so I decided we needed to get out of the house. Take the babes on an adventure. We visited Zin Valle Vineyard, a local vineyard and winery here in Canutillo. It’s a beautiful setting, quite picturesque, a sweet little patch of grapes in southwest Texas nestled by New Mexico on three sides.
Zin Valle is dog and family friendly. In fact, two dogs greeted us upon entry. The Zin Valle Merlot is even called Man’s Best Friend. Interestingly…Every year they participate in a charity event for the Humane Society of El Paso. Event attendees can bid for a chance to feature their dog on the labels of the following year’s Merlot. This year’s winner was a woman who had four chihuahuas, but she chose to feature her parrot on the label instead. Amusing and delicious.
Patty Wagstaff (if you’re reading this) the above anecdote made me think of you.
The wine produced at Zin Valle is known as Rising Star, but they also sell a few wines from Europe and California. Out of eight wines we sampled six. And by we I mean my mother in law and I. Nina and Lila weren’t interested. About half of their wine offerings included grapes grown on the premises, mostly Zinfandel. On a brief stroll by the rows of grapes I did see another varietal that caught my eye. The sign read Gewurtztraminer. I got excited thinking it was a German grape growing here in El Paso. And it is, sort of. It is a grape that originated in the area of Europe between France and Germany. The word is actually French. The grape is best suited to cooler climates but it seems to be doing well in Texas. It is still in its experimentational phase at Zin Valle so there is not yet a Rising Star wine that includes this grape.
The day we visited the vineyard Kathi was behind the counter. She and her husband are the proprietors of the business. She was incredibly friendly and welcoming. You don’t have to be a connoisseur to talk with Kathi about wine or grapes. She is very informal and perfectly describes her wines for even the simplest of us. Between sips she also shared how Zin Valle came to be. It’s a simple, charming story that goes something like…a husband and wife found a plot of land for sale and decided to turn a hobby into a business.
The Poulos family bought the 10 acres in 2000. They moved into the 100 year old adobe house on the property and began planning a vineyard. They were harvesting grapes by 2003. When asked what the hardest part of starting the winery was Kathi said it was coming to terms with the initial investment needed. I thought that was a cute answer. I figured she’d say something else like designing the property, or weather, or bring in 100 tons of sandy soil to mix for optimum grape growing grounds. But no. Her mentality and demeanor, that I now associate with the brand in general, was as honest, unpretentious, and good-natured as could be.
Apparently El Paso has been a premier wine regions since the 1800’s. Now I’m finally in the know. If you’re in the area I definitely suggest visiting Zin Valle. Go at an off-time and you’ll get Kathi all to yourself. Bring the dog. Bring the kids. You can chat, taste, check out the barrel room, or sit on the porch and enjoy the view of the vineyard and the mountains on the horizon. And in the event that you are interested in visiting the winery at a more lively time, go for one of their movie or live music happenings. There is a calendar of events on their site.
A la vôtre!