Las Cruces Bulletin While many in New Mexico consider chile its ultimate crop — and few with any sense would disagree — the Land of Enchantment has another agricultural history lesser known but just as much worth celebrating: wine. Since the first Spanish settlers arrived in the area in the 1500s, they planted along the fertile banks of the Rio Grande mission grapes, kicking- off a centuries-old tradition of winemaking making New Mexico — not California, as many believe — the United States’ oldest wine-producing region. The tradition all but disappeared before a resurgence in the 1970s, but since then, vineyards and wineries have sprung up throughout the state at a clip. To celebrate the centuries old wine history, the Southern New Mexico Wine Festival is once again upon us, drawing thousands of visitors to the Mesilla Valley over Memorial Day weekend to sample a few of the state’s finest wines and enjoy some fun in the sun. From noon to 6 p.m. Saturday through Monday, May 2325, more than 15 wineries from around the state — including Luna Rossa Winery, Dos Viejos Winery, Heart of the Desert Winery, Pecos Flavors Winery, Wines of the San Jun, Amaro Winery, New Mexico Hard Cider, La Esperanza Vineyard, Rio Grande Winery, Grove Specialty Wines, Cottonwood Wine and Brewing, St. Clair Winery, DH Lescombes, Tularosa Vineyards, Ponderosa Valley Winery, Soleil Mimosa and more — will be on hand offering up samples of their best products, along with food, arts and crafts vendors, games and contests, live music and entertainment all in a sunny, summery setting — provided the weather cooperates. Each day, the festival’s live music stage comes alive with some of the region’s best talent, and this year is no different. Saturday’s lineup includes Phat Soul (noon to 3 p.m.) and Latin Funktion (3 to 6 p.m.), Sunday’s features Chris Baker Band (noon to 3 p.m.) and Yarbrough Band (3 to 6 p.m.) and closing out the weekend’s fun, Monday’s performances include Guitar Slim (noon to 3 p.m.) and Fast Lane (3 to 6 p.m.). Tickets to the Southern New Mexico Wine Festival are $15 advance and $20 at the door, and include a souvenir wine glass and sample tickets. All adults must have a valid photo ID with them, regardless of whether or not they are sampling wine. All attendees younger than 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Monday is Military Monday, with a $3 discount for all active- duty military, with ID. For more information on the Southern New Mexico Wine Festival or to purchase tickets, visit www.snmwinefestival. com. Zak Hansen can be reached at 680-1958 or zak@lascrucesbulletin. com. Richard Gurry pours a sample of wine at the Wines of San Juan tent during last year’s Southern New Mexico Wine Festival. This year, the festival returns to the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds Saturday through Monday, May 23-25.