California Wine has Roots in New Mexico (S02E15)

Sep 14, 2018 | Clips, Season 2

Mark Duggan on Ken’s Think Tank Season 2, Episode 15

Wine growing in New Mexico is actually older than wine growing in California.

“Oh yes, yes.”

“We go back to the Catholic Church.  In their settlement of New Mexico in the late 1500’s – early 1600’s, they established their string of Missions up and down the Rio Grande . . . some of them associated with Indian Pueblos that had irrigation . . . some were just places that were granted communal town land grants, such as Socorro.  The Mission system was set up all the way up through San Louis Valley in Colorado.”

“Each of the Missions had a priest or a brother who would say Mass on a daily basis, and they needed the Sacramental Wine.  The wine that they used in Mass had to be consecrated by the bishop, and the nearest bishop in Santa Fe at the time was in Durango, Mexico which is some 500-600 miles away.”

“The wagon trains came up once a year – maybe twice a year if things were good – and they would bring the wine.  In 1633, down near Las Cruces in the Ubas Mountains – Ubas meaning grapes in Spanish – they found grapes.  The Franciscan Friars were making their own wine, and they were blending it in with the consecrated wine . . . kind of like a Sacramental Wine helper . . . to get them through the seasons.”

“It wasn’t until 1776 when King Carlos V sent out some reformations of the New World.  Included in that reformation of 1774 . . . it did take a while for the news to get to the New World . . . they allowed the priests to bless the wine so they didn’t need the bishop consecration.  By that time, they also had a bishop in Santa Fe so the bishop would also perform the duties.  For the outlaying Missions, the priest could do their thing.”

“In the reformation of 1774, the King sent a letter and a new title of Viceroy, and they gave this young man by the name of de Anza the title of Viceroy of Northern New Spain.  That included NM, AZ, CA, and TX.  When the letter came to Santa Fe, the governor read the letter and the reformations.  Part of the letter said that the governor of New Mexico was to send out expeditions to find California.  They knew it was there, but they needed to fill in the gaps.”

“In the manifests of these journeys, they were required to take certain things from New Mexico that would help in the workings of California.  Included in the manifest was ubas . . . ubas being grapes or grape vines.  So, these vies that the Friars grew up around the Missions from the 1600’s – a good hundred years of viticulture in New Mexico – were being transported to California including the Mission of San Gabriel in Southern California near what would today be Orange County.”

“The grape vines that were brought over from this expedition . . . some of which came up through Mexico . . . some of which came from New Mexico . . . were cultivated in California where they became the Mission grape of California.”

“The wine industry in California started with grape vines that were cultivated here in New Mexico.”​

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