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Placitas Winery, located just north of NM165, at 26 Camino de Los Pueblitos, in Placitas, New Mexico, includes a 4,200 square foot indoor open-air adobe pavilion, a 1,200 square foot wine manufacturing cellar, and a 6,800 square foot outdoor celebration area with shady seating for enjoying wine, conversation, and lush scenery.


This rustic event space rests on a four-acre property, which is full of vibrant fruit trees, three separate grape-growing areas, and a section of land where ancient Anasazi artifacts were located by an archeological team several years ago. Parking is available for over one hundred cars.


“We have enjoyed making several kinds of small-batch fruit wine since 2019,” said Placitas Winery co-owner Barb Belknap. “All our wine is made from local hand-picked fruit.”


Barb is joined in this endeavor by her husband Ty, and son, Evan, who is the winery’s vintner as well as a partner in the winery business. Together, the three have employed their individual talents to get the winery to its current level of operation.


“It was three years ago last April that we first moved into this property,” Ty Belknap said. “When the place went on the market, we thought it would be a good idea to maintain it.”


Part the Belknap’s decision to purchase the winery had to do with fond memories of their friend, the late Jim Fish, who used to own and operate another winery business there with the help of his corporate partners.


“When Jim died, it was a real shock to the community,” Barb Belknap said. “The community had many arts and crafts festivals there in addition to musical events and poetry readings. After Jim’s death that all went away.”


As a stained glass artist and musician, Barb had been a participant in those many events and took that into consideration when buying the property.


“I always loved coming to the old winery for events—Ty and I wanted to see it continue,” she said.


“We sold our former Placitas house in order to buy the winery, and at the time, Jim Fish’s small adobe house adjacent to the winery was not ready to purchase,” Barb said. “So we lived in the winery for two winters without heat in the main space or common household amenities.”


Belknaps bought a propane heater to wheel around and cooked on a hot plate until the little house next door was ready for purchase.


“We would flip a coin to see who was going to go into our make-shift kitchen in the winery to make dinner during the winter months because it was so cold,” she said. “As an open-air space, at times, there was actually snow on the floor!” Barb said.


After finally acquiring the house next door, the Belknaps began focusing on restoring the health of the vineyards and renovating the event space. The Belknaps’ friends generously stepped up to erect wooden walls, put in place donated windows and doors, hang cabinets, fit sliding barn doors, nail baseboards, and install a beautiful tasting bar made from wood and scrap granite. The exposed adobe on the outside of the building was rapidly eroding, so they had the entire exterior stuccoed to preserve it. 


Evan Belknap, who had experience in the fermentation process of making beer and kombucha, was interested in transferring that know-how into winemaking. Through his studies, research, and networking with experts in the field, he has created a delicious array of hand-made fruit wines for Placitas Winery.


“We’ve already had several winery events that were successful,” Barb said. “Most all of the events we’ve had here were fundraisers presented by nonprofits organizations, but we are excited to have scheduled our second wedding this October and are looking forward to hosting more."


As to the availability of Placitas Winery, it is open by appointment for wine tastings, for special public events, and for private event rental.


“We are revitalizing this space for the community,” Barb said. “We would like to see bands here, poetry readings, art shows, and other events that help strengthen what this space was built for. We look forward to hosting our own music, art, and poetry events in 2022.


“As animal lovers and wildlife conservationists, the Belknaps also hope to host wildlife shows at the winery in memory of Jim Fish who was a member of the Wildlife West Nature Park—a 122-acre nature park and wild animal rescue service operated by the New Mexico Wildlife Association. 


Currently, Placitas Winery serves five types of dry wine—crabapple, pear, wild cherry, pie cherry, and apricot—all available for $8 a glass to be enjoyed on the winery grounds, and $12 for a half bottle (375ml) to take-out. The winery offers a handy wine-tasting flight carrier with five 1-oz. samples for $10. Plum, raspberry, choke cherry, peach, Syrah, and Gamay wines are currently in the works.


In addition to having wine for sale, Placitas Winery serves New Mexico craft beer at all winery special events.


“We don’t want to be a bar,” Barb said. “Right now, we just want to provide an atmosphere in which people can come enjoy our products by appointment, host local events, or maybe even get married.”


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