History of La Chiripada Winery
Owners Mike and Pat dream of the past and the future and provide their experience of
forty–two years while all the heavy lifting is done by our energetic and innovative staff. Katie Hagan, our Vintner, has been leading the harvest “crush”, winemaking, staff and vineyard management going into her fourth season. Working closely with Katie, Harold Trujillo tends the vines and assists in every aspect of the production cycle. Aspen, after a hiatus on the East coast, returned to work in the tasting room and managing our wine club. Liz joined our team last fall and works the sales room with Katie and Aspen. Our renaissance team also doubles up during the harvest and bottling season multitasking on every level of this small boutique winery with a current production between 1500 and 1800 cases.
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”.)
In 1981 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. The following year, we opened our doors to the public.
Our 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. Presently in our estate vineyards we are
concentrating our efforts on two varietals: Millot, a French–American hybrid developed in
France during the phylloxora epidemic, and Vidal Blanc, a cross with the Ugni Blanc, an
Italian varietal. Both varietals are components for our signature blends: Rio Embudo Red and Winemakers’ Select White. For the past twenty–five years we have worked closely with
Paolo D’Andrea of New Mexico Vineyards in the Mimbres Valley to produce award winning
Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Viognier, Port and innovative
blends like our Winemakers’ Select Red and Vintners’ Reserve Red.
From vine planting, to cultivating and pruning, to racking, fining, and filtering, our team is
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