Thousands celebrate Labor Day weekend at wine festival

Harvest Wine Festival celebrates thirteenth year

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - For thirteen years, the Harvest Wine Festival has brought visitors from all over the region to Las Cruces, all to get a taste of New Mexico wine from more than 15 wineries.

The fun wasn't just for the adults.

The event featured plenty of family-friendly activities including face painting, a bounce house and hourly grape stomping contests.

"Bringing the kids out and the husband out, us parents have something to do, and then they've got activities for the kids, listening to music, just enjoying culture as a family," said Marcy Jones, visiting from El Paso.

Not only is the event great marketing for the wineries, it's a chance for them to test out new flavors on thousands of people.

St. Clair Winery had an entire tent dedicated to a new line of mimosa flavors ranging from pineapple to the classic orange.

They used the opportunity as an experiment to see which flavor people like the most. In just a few months, that flavor will be sold all over the country.

"It's really invaluable because as we go national, we can't really afford to make mistakes of producing products that consumers don't want," said Robert Oreloffs, marketing director for St. Clair.

Across the fairgrounds, Cottonwood Winery made its debut at the wine festival. They brought interesting flavors with quirky packaging, including the newest of the bunch, Jack Ass.

"It's a vanilla flavor. You have to check it out," John Martin told ABC-7 as he ate lunch and drank wine with friends.

"They kind of like our horse stuff. We do horses," Cottonwood Winery owner Dale Taylor said of his winery's uniqueness.

People said the wine festival is a win-win situation for everyone.

"On a scale of one to 10, it's a 15. It's out of the ballpark. It's a wonderful event," said Martin.

Wineries test out new flavors and find new customers, while the public gets to indulge in wines from all over the state.

"For us to be able to test market that here in Las Cruces or up in Bernalillo and let the consumers tell us what they want, it's the way to go," Oreloffs said.

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