It’s that most wonderful time of the year! You thought that was Christmas? Nope. At least not if you’re a food and wine fan and are lucky enough to live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Or maybe you simply love Santa Fe from afar but make the trek here for these delightful days. The annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta occurs in late September, which I think of as our most stunning time of year. Chile has turned from green to crimson, aspens shimmer golden in the hills above us, and nights are cool enough to warm ourselves with fragrant piñon fires. Read on for the details of this year’s version of the three-decades-old extravaganza. Events are selling out, so don’t delay.
TOAST OF THE TOWN
I confess to being an old enough vintage, personally, to have been around since the inaugural Wine & Chile Fiesta in 1991. Rented stoves and refrigerators were plunked into the Sanbusco Center parking lot (now the New Mexico School for the Arts). The event was one afternoon and featured about 20 restaurants and a similar number of wineries. Now it’s spread over five days, features north of 60 local restaurants, a selection of top visiting chefs, 90 wineries from around the globe, and attracts 3,500 people.
First, the bad news. You can’t get a ticket to Wednesday’s Guest Chef Lunch and Sommelier Throwdown, Thursday’s tour de force for female chefs and somms, the Live Auction and Guest Chefs’ Luncheon, or Friday’s Ultimate Grazing Board with caviar and tartare from the bison guys, Tony Beck and John-Paul Bulow of Beck & Bulow. They’re already sold out!
But the good news is that there are still plenty of tickets for the wine seminars, one of the festival’s best bargains, according to executive director Mary Hallahan. One of those features 50 Years of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants hosted by Kermit’s son Anthony Lynch. Another showcases Frank Family Vineyards, this year’s honored Winery of the Year. James Beard Award-winning sommelier, Belinda Chang, is zipping in from Chicago to host, among other things, a tasting of pinot noirs from around the world. Look into the chef demos, too, like Market Steer Steakhouse’s Kathleen Crook paired with Stags’ Leap Winery, or Paddy Rawal of Zaika and Raaga-Go paired with Tablas Creek, both at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.
I love the renewed emphasis on New Mexico’s chile, with the first-time Chile Friday at Fort Marcy Park. Local restaurants will offer varied hot stuff. Check out all kinds of related activities like chile roasting and ristra-making. In a first-time break from wine, this day will feature margaritas, along with area craft breweries serving their brews. Holy mole!
From Andiamo to Zacatlan, expect scores of Santa Fe’s restaurants to participate in the centerpiece Grand Tasting, usually referred to simply as “the big event.” Big it is, with not only all those dining establishments but some 90 world-class wineries pouring their offerings. It’s all out under a series of tents on the grassy lawn of Magers Field, where we burn Zozobra earlier in the month. It’s a joyous bacchanal, with the top restaurants trying to outdo each other with their signature dishes and booth décor.
SUNDAYS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME
I missed my chance to get a ticket to this year’s Champagne and Dirty Boots Brunch, with its stellar location up at Tesuque’s Four Seasons Rancho Encantado. Instead, I’m going to focus on Rosé All Day, which still has tickets at press time. The event’s being hosted this time by Bishop’s Lodge, another gorgeous Tesuque locale. Host Chef Pablo Peñalosa will be joined by other top chefs, including Martín Rios of Restaurant Martín and visiting chef Charleen Badman from much-lauded FnB in Scottsdale. The providers of the rosé will be from around the globe.
If you’re feeling like working off some of that food and wine, you can still participate in either the Gruet Golf Classic or the Gran Fondo Bike Ride. The golf classic takes place up at Towa Gold Course on the Pojoaque Pueblo. The format’s a four-person scramble over 18 holes, with food from Santa Fe chefs and a wine pairing every third hole. I don’t really know what all that means, but it excites golfers. For the bike ride, you can choose from a 25-, 45-, or 75-mile loop through historic villages of northern New Mexico.
Do not wait! Get your tickets now. See you there.
Wednesday, September 21, to Sunday, September 25, 2022
For tickets: SantaFeWineandChile.org
Most core events at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center and Fort Marcy Park/Magers Field off Bishop’s Lodge Road
Associated wine dinners are listed, but bookings are made through individual restaurants
Story by Cheryl Alters Jamison.
Four-time James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison is the host of Heating It Up on KTRC and is now the “queen of culinary content” for SantaFe.com. Find new stories about the Santa Fe food scene each week on SantaFe.com.