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Annual festival returns to Blanco winery this weekend
Live music, food, competition and vendors will be on hand
FARMINGTON — The harvest season tends to be a festive time in most agricultural environments, but that's especially true at Wines of the San Juan, the Blanco winery located approximately 40 minutes east of Farmington on the banks of the San Juan River.
For a decade and a half, the winery's owners have celebrated the grape harvest with a festival that has grown into the business' largest annual event. This year's edition takes place this weekend and is expected to attract approximately 3,000 visitors, winery spokeswoman Brittny Arnold said.
The festival's focus is wine, but it also offers plenty of food, live music, dancing, children's activities, and the wares of dozens of artisans and other vendors. Its most popular activity is the annual grape stomp competition, which takes place Saturday afternoon and features 12 costumed teams competing for prizes.
Arnold said the grape stomp competition filled up quickly this year, with those who tried to sign up late relegated to a waiting list.
Wines can be sampled throughout the festival at tastings, and wines by the glass will be available for purchased. Arnold said a tent featuring bottle sales will be set up outside the festival.
"We have a lot of new wines this year, but all our wines will be available," she said, adding that a red blend, a petite syrah and three rosés will be among the newcomers.
A green chile roaster will be on hand to add a distinctly New Mexico air to the proceedings, and a Durango, Colo., radio station is planning a live remote from the winery, Arnold said.
The food vendors will be offering selections ranging from barbecue, Thai food, rib eye sandwiches, wood-fired pizza and veggie bowls to curly fries, kettle corn, ice cream and lemonade.
Four bands will perform over the course of the weekend. At noon Saturday, the American trio the Cannondolls from Durango will take the stage, followed that afternoon by Jones and Miles, a Ruidoso-based group that performs equal parts bluegrass, rock, funk and punk. On Sunday, the eclectic trio Wake Up Laughing from Southwest Colorado kicks things off, followed by Elder Grown, a five-piece Durango outfit that mixes such genres as funk, rock, hip hop and pop.
Arnold said there will several new vendors at the festival this year, including many from Colorado and Arizona. She said she was especially impressed with the work of Ron Burris, a Pagosa Springs, Colo., artisan who creates wind harps and bells, and a pair of Chinle, Ariz., who created beaded Navajo necklaces.
"We'll have a lot of new stuff people have never seen before," she said.
The event will be staged rain or shine, and Arnold said many of the attractions will be covered.
Mike Easterling is the night editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.
If you go
What: The 16th annual Harvest Wine Festival
When: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Wines of the San Juan, 233 N.M. Highway 511 in Blanco
Admission: $13 each day, but discounted two-day tickets are available online through Friday. Children 17 and younger are admitted free with a paying adult.
For more information: Call 505-632-0879 or visit winesofthesanjuan.com