Grape Expectations

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Posted Tue, Apr 30, 2013

Valynne Bernetich, a new employee, reaches for the Holy Mole.  This spicy wine was created by Richard a few years ago, it combines the taste of red chile with chocolate.  [Photo by Ashley Hattle]

Valynne Bernetich, a new employee, reaches for the Holy Mole. This spicy wine was created by Richard a few years ago, it combines the taste of red chile with chocolate. [Photo by Ashley Hattle]

A few miles north of Santa Fe lies Estrella Del Norte Vineyard, a quaint winery with a rich taste.  Richard and Eileen Reinders opened Estrella Del Norte in 2007 and have enjoyed the "fruits of their labor" ever since. [Photo by Ashley Hattle.]

A few miles north of Santa Fe lies Estrella Del Norte Vineyard, a quaint winery with a rich taste. Richard and Eileen Reinders opened Estrella Del Norte in 2007 and have enjoyed the “fruits of their labor” ever since. [Photo by Ashley Hattle.]


SANTA FE, N.M.– North of Santa Fe, Pinot Noir flows rich through Estrella Del Norte Vineyards, delighting the community and visitors with its earthy taste, black cherry aroma and the laughter that accompanies each glass.

Eileen Reinders and her husband Richard, through their wine making, have fostered the vineyard into a community building enterprise just off the old Shining Sun Road. Quaint hand-painted wood signs direct wine connoisseurs and visitors to the modest vineyard.

Estrella Del Norte, meaning the North Star, is a little piece of land that produces big flavor in every one of the 1,200 cases of wine produced every year. Reinders, a former Metro State University of Denver Roadrunner, and Richard decided to buy the vineyard in 2008. The land was originally founded in the 1980’s. When the Reinders bought Estrella Del Norte, the vines were 18-years old and had enough time to mature and saturate the grapes with the rich flavor of the Santa Fe soil. Though the leafing of the vines happens in May, the tasting room on the West side of the property is constantly full of activity.

“We get very busy through spring break and during summertime,” said Valynne Bernetich, the wine connoisseur of the tasting room.

Eileen Reinders pours one of Estrella Del Norte's specialty wines.  During the harvest season, which is usually at the end of August or beginning of October, the grape vines are checked every wednesday to maximize the taste of the wine.

Eileen Reinders pours one of Estrella Del Norte’s specialty wines. During the harvest season, which is usually at the end of August or beginning of October, the grape vines are checked every wednesday to maximize the taste of the wine.[Photo by Ashley Hattle]

Harvesting of the grapes happens at the end of September, and the beginning of October. That is when the whole community comes out to the Reinders’ property to help harvest the grapes. Neighbors from miles around come to work the vines and share some laughter and barbecue afterward the harvest. This, and the unique taste of Estrella Del Norte’s wines are what convinced Bernetich she had to work at the vineyard.

“I came with a friend and I decided on that trip that I wanted to work here,” Bernetich says.

Along with the harvesting, the same community will come out for the planting party that usually includes 30 volunteers. The roots of the owners, and the wines, are dug deep into their Santa Fe soil, as all the port wines are still made with fruit from on the property. Luna Pera Especial, the pear port wine and Geronimo’s Gold, the apple wine, are both made with the fresh fruit that bloomed in the vineyard’s own modest orchard.

With only two owners and two staff members, the vineyard is purposely kept to a small franchise and yet the wine, as Eileen Reinders says, “Are big winners.”

So for now, Estrella Del Norte will remain a real hidden treasure digging its roots into the Nambé Valley, delighting locals and visitors with its feisty red Zinfandels and its syrupy Moscatos.

About Jen Sasser

Jen Sasser is working towards a Photojournalism degree with a minor in African American Studies. She is deeply interested in African affairs, non-profits, and travel which is evident in her writing and photographs.

View all posts by Jen Sasser

3 Responses to “Grape Expectations”

  1. Davy Says:

    Good job. I like your quotes and headline.

    Reply

  2. Aaron Lambert Says:

    Once again, awesome lead. As for the stiory, it’s short, sweet (no pun intended), and to the point! Nice one.

    Reply

  3. Ashley Hattle
    Ashley Hattle Says:

    Great Article Jen :). I absolutely love the headline!

    Reply

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