Wine festival season is upon us and drunken gluttony is the name of the game!This unique breed of harvest celebration has been going strong in New Mexico for nearly two decades, starting with the the New Mexico Wine Festival, which kickedit all off 18 years ago.You can continue the tradition this Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. at the Bernalillo Wine Festival Grounds. And if you happen to go on Saturday, be sure to stop by the Anasazi Fields Winery booth, where Andy Sandersier, author of the excellent The Wines of New Mexico, will sign his book from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information call 899-3815. Then there's the Harvest Wine Festival at the Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds in Las Cruces. Highlights include hourly grape-stomping competitions that only get better as the day wears on. For more information and driving directions, log on to nmwine.com.
New Bistro's on the Block. New Mexico's largest winery,St. Clair Vineyards, is branching out into the food service sector with their newest undertaking, St. Clair Winery & Bistro. The casual, reasonably priced eatery is located just to the northwest of the Sheraton Old Town off Rio Grande. Their spacious front specialty wine and gift shop brings a wine festival flair to thirsty Burqueños year-round, while the menu is built around the Vineyard's signature wines. And, oh yeah, they've got fish sticks (called "tilapia tenders," but fish sticks nonetheless). Call for directions and service hours at 243-9916.
Much Ado About Miche. After receiving Wine Spectator's prestigious Award of Excellence for the sixth year in a row, Le Café Miche (1431 Wyoming NE, 299-6088) is celebrating with some sweeping changes around the restaurant, starting with an interior makeover by Corrales artist Kelly Cozart. Other additions include a new Sunday brunch service, valet parking for lunch on weekdays and a revamped line of private-label wines, named "Café Miche Estates." The wines, previously sold under Gruet's "Chateau Miche" label, are now produced through a sisterhood of boutique wineries out of Northern California. Cheers!
The Artichoke Gets Another Layer. If all goes according to plan, the Artichoke Café (424 Central SE, 243-0200) will expand to almost twice its current size by the end of the month. The attached building to the west (formerly a Maddox and Co. Realtors office) is undergoing a dramatic transformation into a brand new, two-level wine bar. The space will be done up in warm tones and include a fireplace, wood floors and big, curvy bar that's perfect for socializing. "And of course, there'll be a hugely extensive wine list!" says Manager Susan Cianciabella. The restaurant also plans to offer a new, lighter bar menu in addition to their regular dinners.