Record heat yields bountiful harvest for vineyards in El Paso, Southern New Mexico

Amid the cotton and alfalfa fields along highway 28 in Southern New Mexico and the western edge Texas, two vineyards saw their grape vines hanging heavy with fruit as temperatures soared to record levels this summer. Now, with the advent of cooler weather in the region, the wineries are hoping to see more visitors stopping by.

“The negative way is people don’t want to go outside when it’s hot,” said Bryan Oakley, owner of Mesa Vista Winery. “So even though we have refrigerant air in our building, people just didn’t want to venture outside. And not just us, but all the wineries had the same effect that it was too hot and business was slower due to the heat.”

Today seven wineries and vineyards can be found on along Highway 28 between Canutillo, Texas, and Mesilla, N.M., But the root of winemaking in the region goes back hundreds of years. New Mexico is America’s original wine country. In 1662 Spanish missionaries established the first vineyard in North America which was located near present-day El Paso, Texas. A full 140 years before California planted its first grapevine.