While one may not expect crisp, acidic wines to come from the southern border of the U.S., New Mexico offers surprisingly refreshing bottles to pair with its signature Hatch chiles. Wine isn\u2019t new to the state either\u2014the first vines were planted in 1629.\r\n\r\nIn recent years, however, quality has been on the rise across the state, from around Las Cruces in the south, all the way to the northern border of Colorado, and areas surrounding Santa Fe and Albuquerque.\r\n\r\nGrapes here benefit from some of the highest elevations in the country, sometimes above 6,000 feet. \u201cEven the southern part of the state is still high altitude for the wine world, so our entire state offers up grapes that are thicker skinned due to that,\u201d says Michele Padberg, owner/director of marketing and publicity at Viv\u00e1c Winery.\r\n\r\nNew Mexico Wine Facts\r\nAlmost 1 million cases produced annually\r\nApproximate Vineyard Acres: 1,200\r\nElevation Range: 400\u20136,700 feet\r\nWineries: 45\r\n\r\nThis elevation, in combination with sandy soils that provide excellent drainage, keeps wines crisp and lively, while still offering up excellent concentration. The surrounding desert environment has benefits, too.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe hot days and cool nights keep the integrity of the natural acidity which gives the final wines balance and structure,\u201d says Padberg. \u201cThe dry climate keeps things like rot out of the equation as well as most pests.\u201d\r\n\r\nNew Mexico AVAs\r\nMiddle Rio Grande Valley\r\nMimbres Valley\r\nMesilla Valley (shared with Texas)\r\n\r\nOf course, altitude also comes with challenges: Devastating freezes can hit hard both in late spring and at the end of the growing season.\r\n\r\nSparkling wine house Gruet has drawn attention to the region in recent years, as it continues expanding to meet demand for the Champagne-style wines. But bubbles are only the tip of the iceberg.\r\n\r\nWineries to Look for\r\nAmaro Winery, Black Mesa Winery\r\nGruet Winery, Luna Rossa Winery and Noisy Water Winery\r\n\r\nWineries here produce a variety of spectacular still wines from racy Riesling to structured Cabernet. A singular style has yet to emerge, but many winemakers are dabbling in Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.\r\n\r\nAs with many under-the-radar regions, few wines leave New Mexico. Its industry has experienced a boost from a local wine association celebrating a \u201cViva Vino\u201d campaign. The organization\u2019s annual wine festivals throughout the state make it well worth a visit.