402 S. MELENDRES ST.
By Rachel Christiansen
Trendy, colorful, chic – not the typical words used to describe a centuries-old industry of the Mesilla Valley.
Yet that’s the atmosphere that greets you when walking into Amaro Winery, an inviting place for the modern-day wine drinker.
But according to co-owner Kelly Allen, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never had a sip of wine in your life, or are a connoisseur – you can be comfortable in your own skin at the tasting room.
“We are not wine snobs,” Allen said. “It’s very comfortable, and that’s what we want it to be.
“Our goal, when we opened, was to have a place that enhances the education, the knowledge and the experience of New Mexico wines.”
Under the direction of co-owner Benjamin Maier, who has cultivated the finest grapes in the area for the past 15 years, the two families merged in 2009 to open their “dream business.”
“We wanted to set ourselves outside the box and be urban,” Allen said.
Although located in the middle of town at 402 S. Melendres St., all of Amaro’s wine is produced and bottled on site.
“People will come in and ask, ‘How do I taste this?’ or ‘What does this go with?’” Allen said. “I just say you can taste it how you want and you can drink it with what you want.”
For those who want the “expert’s advice,” however, Allen said they’re willing to dish that out as well.
The Allens and the Maiers poured their hearts into the business’ opening, turning the location of what was once a dilapidated lumber company into the bright and comfortable wine bar it is today. Family friends for many years, Allen’s experience in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM) paired with Maier’s expertise in winemaking, Allen said the fit was a natural one to turn what was both of their father’s dream into a reality.
With the delicate economy in mind, as well as emphasizing green building, they created the interior and exterior environment by using recycled and repurposed materials.
“The floors are original, the doors are all from Habitat for Humanity … some of the furniture came from either my house or my grandmother’s house,” Allen said.
The feel of the tasting room, however, is one of sheer modernity – simple, efficient designs featuring bright purple and red walls accent the feeling that you’ve left traditional Las Cruces.
Sip on a glass while sitting on the winery’s patio to enjoy the mild weather and fruits of the earth, and you’ll remember exactly where you are.
A fair amount of local flare can be found within the business as well, as Allen said they are all about embracing the local community through displaying the works of local artists.
Art and jewelry from the community surround the bottles of Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Malvasia Bianca, Cruces Sunrise, Amour, Dolcetto, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Zinfandel and dessert wines on the shelves to take home and enjoy.
The tasting room often hosts live music, wine and cheese pairings, special events, release parties and other cultural events. You never know what new friends you’ll make on a Friday or Saturday night at Amaro.
Tastings of what the winery has to offer can be purchased for $7, and full glasses of your favorite can be purchased for $4 to $6. Bottles range in price, but none cost more than $18.
The tasting room is open from 1 to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays.