Extravaganza proves wineries, like wines, get better with age – Silver City Daily Press and Independent

Extravaganza proves wineries, like wines, get better with age  Silver City Daily Press and Independent

Saturday’s sixth annual Summer Arts and Wine Extravaganza at La Esperanza Vineyard and Winery in Sherman, N.M., drew a smaller crowd than in previous …

(Press Staff Photo by Geoffrey Plant)
Hanley and Hunter Thomas helped their grandfather Dave Wasmund of Mimbres at his booth during La Esperanz’s Summer Arts and Wine Extravaganza on Saturday. Wasmund (suspenders) speaks to Ron Fridlind, who came from Faywood with his wife, Kathryn (not pictured). The sisters Thomas said their favorite part of visiting from Utah is riding their grandparents’ donkeys.

Saturday’s sixth annual Summer Arts and Wine Extravaganza at La Esperanza Vineyard and Winery in Sherman, N.M., drew a smaller crowd than in previous years, but still offered a laid-back, beautiful day of wine tasting and arts and crafts shopping for those who made the small winery a destination over the Father’s Day weekend.

Just a 45-minute drive from Silver City, La Esperanza winery is atop a small hill overlooking four acres of lush, well-kept grapevines — 4,000 plants, according to David Gurule, who owns and operates the winery with his wife and vineyard namesake, Esperanza Gurule. 

“We’re at 5,700 feet,” David Gurule was telling a couple who attended Saturday’s event. “Colder temps, a shorter growing season” at that elevation, Gurule said, as he poured a couple of glasses of chardonnay. 

The winery produces about 1,000 cases of wine every year, and in 2016 they harvested about 12 tons of grapes. The winery augments that harvest with grapes brought in from vineyards in Deming. 

“To be a ‘New Mexico’ wine, it has to contain 51 percent New Mexico-grown grapes,” Gurule explained. “We have six varieties, and we buy the rest of our grapes from New Mexico Vineyard Inc. in Deming — they sell 52 varieties.

“Deming is 1,500 feet lower in elevation and can grow grapes longer,” Gurule said. “The Montepulciano grapes are ready in October, and most of ours mature starting in late August, and we harvest from then through September.” 

All of La Esperanza’s wines are made from single varieties of grapes, not blends.

Among folks attending Saturday’s event, the consensus was that La Esperanza’s most enjoyable wine was their Montepulciano, an Italian varietal that the Gurules made from Deming grapes grown in 2017. Also popular was their tribute to Santa Rita, N.M., the long-gone mining town that was swallowed up by the Chino copper mine, and the birthplace of Esperanza Gurule — a red wine called Born in Space, made from St. Vincent grapes grown in La Esperanza’s vineyard. 

Their 2016 Chardonnay nearly sold out by the end of the weekend — “we have had a lot of people come out for Father’s Day,” Gurule told the Daily Press on Sunday.

Despite gusty winds, arts and crafts vendors at Saturday’s extravaganza seemed delighted with the 2019 event. Though turnout was smaller than expected, many vendors sold items and made new friends with attendees. 

“We come out nearly every year,” said David Coultas, a longtime area resident who was relaxing in the shade of grapevines growing over pergolas next to the tasting room with his wife, Victoria. They were sipping glasses of Born in Space. “We see friends here and make new friends — David’s wines have really improved, by the way.”

King Crowder of the Duckstop food truck walked by and offered the pair a dessert. 

“We’re pairing the Montepulciano with our chocolate cherry trifle — that Monte[pulciano] is a state gold medal winner,” Crowder said. 

The Duckstop had a chicken pressed sandwich and a “Deadwood burger” on the menu especially for the wine tasting. 

“This is a great event for us,” he said.

Pre-teen sisters Hunter and Hanley Thomas, who live in Utah, were visiting their grandparents, who live in Mimbres, and helping grandfather Dave Wasmund sell his “weedpots” — bowls and tiny vases made from found wood that he turned on his lathe and polished. 

“My wife got me the lathe to get me out of the house,” Wasmund laughed. “My favorite wood is oak from around here, and I use juniper and other woods, too,” he said. Some bowls had copper powder or synthetic turquoise powder polished into the grain. 

Dave’s wife, Patricia Wasmund, had her “hide-a-rocks” for sale, stones with designs painted on them — along with the stone’s origin and contact information on it — that are meant to be placed in locations where they will be found by a stranger. The movement is meant to promote friendship and kindness.

Among the more impressive art for sale was a collection of “gourd art” by Margaret Streams of Second Nature Artworks. Streams carves, paints, and burns various gourds of all sizes — hollowed, dried squash — into fantastic animals, nature scenes and vessels. One piece was an intricately carved “grumpy carp” fish, swimming among seaweed also carved out of gourds.

Also for sale Saturday were a variety of textile crafts, as well as paintings, sculptures and yet more wood products, like the beautiful cutting boards made by John and Linda Rokosz of John’s Workshop. 

Cheryl Copperstone had her copper jewelry for sale — “we’re in copper country out here,” she said. 

Winemaker Gurule is a gregarious guy whose life experience and congeniality make the trip out to La Esperanza winery worthwhile even if you don’t drink wine — and that’s saying a lot! But for those who do, Gurule was enthusiastically sharing news about two events later this summer that La Esperanza is involved with. 

“The Silver City Wine Festival has 11 confirmed wineries coming — including us,” Gurule said — and here he paused dramatically. “And Gruet, the state’s largest winery, just confirmed they will be there! So we’ll have champagne — well, ‘sparkling wine,’ since it isn’t from France —  to taste.” 

An award-winning New Mexico wine stalwart, Gruet is one of the most popular sources of champagne — er, sparkling wine — for weddings in the United States. Gruet’s presence at the Silver City Wine Festival is a real coup, according to Gurule, who added that there will be four food trucks along with The Mint Chip ice cream truck at the event. 

“Twenty-two art vendors have also confirmed,” he said. 

Gurule applauded Alex Brown, town manager for Silver City, for his work on behalf of the town, which is organizing the event in partnership with the New Mexico Wine Growers Association. The Silver City Wine Festival is also being sponsored this year by the Daily Press and Independent.

Gurule was also ebullient Saturday on the subject of his winery’s 10th anniversary, which La Esperanza will celebrate with “music, food and grape-stomping” on Aug. 3. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and the grape-stomping competition will be from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The Illusion Band and Brandon Perrault — and a third, soon-to-be-announced Latin music group — will provide entertainment at what Gurule predicts will be a heck of a party.

“I worked in the nuclear weapons industry for 33 years,” said Gurule, a civil engineer who once worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “And working with nuclear weapons was easier than growing grapes and making wine. 

“You take what God gives you, and do your best to make a good wine.”

Editor’s Note: In the print version of this story published June 17, Dave Wasmund’s wife was misidentified, and an incorrect elevation for the winery and incorrect source of some grapes used by them were included. This online version was corrected at 9:30 p.m. June 17 to reflect the correct information, and the Daily Press regrets the error.  

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