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Noisy Water Vineyards & Winery to Manage New Mexico's Engle Vineyard

by David Furer
November 13, 2019

Management of New Mexico’s Engle vineyard, the state’s largest contiguous site with 75 acres in full production, has transferred from Precept Wine—owners of noted sparkling winery Gruet—to Ruidoso’s Noisy Water Vineyards & Winery.

Engle is comprised of 250 acres; 125 of which are sparsely planted to 40 acres of Chardonnay, 60 Pinot noir, 20 Chenin blanc, and 5 Cabernet sauvignon.

Kelsey Aanerud, Precept’s Communications Director, said the lease expired at the end of 2018 with the Seattle-based company electing not to renew it. “The lease began in 1995 with the Gruet family adding some buildings and an irrigation well to replace the water that once came from Elephant Butte reservoir as well as an irrigation pond to store and treat it.”

Noisy Water’s owner/winemaker Jasper Riddle took over shortly thereafter.  Riddle’s uncle Richard Piedmont came out of retirement from having managed orchards in upstate New York and commercial nurseries in Arizona for the challenge. He pulled together a crew to prune 78 linear miles of vineyard by hand.

Gruet Winery founder and winemaker Laurent Gruet is glad Noisy Water bought Engle, telling Wine Business Monthly, “having used grapes from Engle for many years in our Brut and Blanc de Noirs, I like the quality and flavor of the grapes. Those vines are about 35 years old and give great balance…we'll keep buying from Noisy Water.” Gruet reckons the weather remains the biggest concern but was very pleased with the quality of the 2019 harvest having purchased from Riddle some of its Pinot noir and Chardonnay. "As long as there's enough fertilizer and organic matter added the transition will be okay.”

Riddle said he farmed the entire 2019 year fully organically, allowing ground cover to come back and focused on plant health and made minor alterations to soil using organic fertilizers of kelp, bat guano, worm teas. Excess groundwater salinity is a common problem in southern New Mexico, and the methods of amelioration applied in the previous tenure “caused acid burn on vines, split drip lines and even corroded metal T posts,” according to Riddle. “We decided to go well-direct and use a European style application of magnetic fields on the water to change the surface tension of the water allowing the vines to absorb certain hard minerals by changing their electric charges thereby allowing them to be usable.”

With significantly less migrant labor available, Riddle’s first harvest at Engle required he bring in a machine to run some of the most difficult blocks. He confirmed that “fruit quality is excellent, and said he's started to build programs showcasing the fruit such as a Wild Ferment Pinot Noir, and three other types of Pinot noir that with different winemaking styles and yeast strains: an Orange Chenin, an Orange Chardonnay, carbonic ally macerated Pinot noir for a Nouveau style, and a Chenin/Chard blend fashioned to be similar to a Vinho Verde.”

Engle’s neighboring properties include Ted Turner’s expansive buffalo ranch and Spaceport America, Richard Branson’s and Elon Musk’s project.

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