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Why the vineyards in El Paso are really hot right now

The soaring heat in New Mexico has led to El Paso winemakers producing some of their best harvests yet, according to reports.

This year, the El Paso, Texas region of New Mexico broke records with more than 60 days with temperatures over 100 degrees. But despite the rising temperatures initially causing concern over workers and visitors, winemakers in the area are revealing that the summer created good quality crops.

Mesa Vista Winery owner Bryan Oakley said to Borderzine that the recent hot weather had initially seemed to be a negative because of working conditions as much as local tourism to the vineyard.

He explained: “People don’t want to go outside when it’s hot, 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.”

However, Oakley shared some advice he had once received from former El Paso Times editor Barbara Funkhauser who had retired from the local paper and gone on to run the Tatreault Vineyard near Las Cruces until her death in 2014. She told him that grapes love heat.

Oakley reiterated: “She used to run her stepfather’s vineyard in Fair Acres there in Las Cruces. And she’s right. Grapes like heat. I had a very good crop. I usually get three tons off my little two acre plot and this year I got four tons. And I’m hearing that the other vineyards also had a very good crop.”

Zin Valle Vineyards in Canutillo, Texas, which was inspired by the Zinfandel grape — the variety it specialises in — described how the heat has impacted the winery.

Zin Valle Vineyards owner Ryan Poulos said that his family had always been “very intentional about which kind of what kind of varieties we were going to grow”.

He revealed that, because of this, the Zinfandel in the vineyards has been enjoying the heat and the winery is already set up for high temperatures. He added: “Luckily, Zinfandel in particular” enjoys the heat and explained that “as far as water goes, we have our own well in the irrigation system, so we can water whenever we want”.

Poulos observed how, although he was initially concerned about turnout in the heat and its impact on customers visiting, locals are hardy and persevere. He pointed out: “We don’t love triple-digit days because people see that in the news and they say you know what, let’s just stay home or do something that’s a little more shaded. But also El Pasoans are very used to the heat and they know how to deal with it.”

Poulos added: “We’ve been very fortunate this year.”

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