History of La Chiripada Winery
La Chiripada Winery is a small, family-run operation located in the beautiful Rio Embudo Valley of Northern New Mexico (50 miles north of Santa Fe and 25 miles south of Taos). We established our winery in 1977, following the traditions of the first Spanish settlers and adopted the name, La Chiripada, from the original ranch where our winery is located. (“La Chiripada” means, “a stroke of luck” or “a lucky fluke”.)
It was in 1981 that we built the winery in the traditional southwest style using the indigenous materials of the region: adobe bricks, vigas and latillas. That same year, after developing our root stock for four years, we harvested our first commercial vintage, a robust Burgundian styled red wine from our small vineyard in Canoncito. The following year, we opened our doors to the public.
Our signature wines, Special Reserve Riesling, Rio Embudo Red and Rio Embudo Red Reserve Selection are made from grapes grown at our vineyards in the Rio Embudo Valley. Warm summer days and cool, clear nights combine with rich, sandy loam soil to create ideal conditions for the cultivation of grapes. Northern New Mexico’s extreme winters together with our high elevation (at 6100 ft, we are one of the highest commercial grape growing ventures in the world) caused us to choose cultivars capable of withstanding the severe climate and short growing season.
In 1983, our neighbors upriver, Jasper and Orlina Tucker, established Rio Embudo Vines. Our combined vineyards now produce between 20 and 30 tons each season: up to half of what we need for the “crush”. Due to our high elevation, some types of grapes are unable to grow locally, so we purchase grapes from the Mimbres Valley in the southern part of our state.
In our winemaking practice, we stress the regionality of our product and are sensitive to the unique cuisine of northern New Mexico. We make a variety of wines that range in style from an intensely fruity Kabinett styled Riesling to a spicy Rhone styled red; from an oak aged Cabernet to a delightfully refreshing Blush wine. Our Primavera wine is a favorite of locals as it is the perfect complement to the spicy (hot!) red and green chiles of northern New Mexico.
From vine planting, to cultivating and pruning, to racking, fining, and filtering, we are intimately involved with our wines all the way. We taste, dialogue and collaborate, from the original taste of the grape to be harvested to the final thumbs up at bottling time. We follow the aging process from barrel through the days, months and years in the bottle. A wonderful task! And since we do not overly process our wines, i.e. no excessive pumping, filtering, fining or sulfur, at times the wines will precipitate elements inherent in the wine like tartaric crystals and pigments. Not to worry — these are all signs of a good wine!
Our winery consistently brings home awards from competitions across the nation as well as being voted time and again “The Best Winery in New Mexico”. From crush to bottling, together with our dedicated staff, we carefully monitor our wines to bring you the best wine we can produce.
— Michael & Patrick Johnson, Owners