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After Bud Break, Winemakers Hold Their Breath

Merlot bud break at Milagro Vineyards
Merlot bud break at Milagro VineyardsRick Hobson of Milagro Vineyards

In New Mexico, the sight of first bud break on a vine is both a cause for celebration and concern for the vintner. Grape vines can handle fairly cold temperatures when they are dormant, but once buds begin forming, the reawaken vine is susceptible to the killing frosts that can occur up to mid-May. That is why New Mexico winemakers and grape growers hold their collective breath until the last possibility of frost is gone.

When commenting on his wines at various wine dinners and functions, Rick Hobson of Milagro Vineyards, talks about his “frost year” and “non-frost year” wines and how they differ. Non-frost years provide a longer growing season with lower fruit loss. The frost year wines, as Rick has said many times, take longer to develop. Because all his wines are well made, even the frost year wines are exceptional.

This coming weekend, April 12 and 13, Milagro will be open for tasting and a non-frost year wine takes center stage: the 2009 Chardonnay. It is available as a “library” wine. The Hobsons generally hold some wine out that they believe will develop more complexity over time. This is also a way for the winemaker to learn how their wines are evolving and aging. In the case of Milagro, the evolution is always good.

“Our Chardonnay has shown the ability to age gracefully, we believe, owing to barrel fermentation and "sur lie" (on the lees) aging. The ‘09 Chardonnay, now in its fifth year, is showing a brilliant light gold color, aromas and flavors of pear, apple and mineral along with smooth texture, crisp acidity and a long finish. Only Twelve cases are available.” Rick Hobson.

This weekend, going to the library will have a whole different meaning as fans of Milagro wines come to sample the newer and aged beauties on display at the tasting room. The vineyard and tasting room at 985 West Ella is already decked out for spring so this is a good opportunity to sample fine wines, bring a picnic and celebrate bud break … cautiously.

Milagro Vineyards tasting room hours are at 11am to 4pm on Saturday and noon to 4pm on Sunday, or call 505-898-3998 to make an appointment.