Popular for its crisp and refreshing brut-style sparkling wines, Gruet Winery is an iconic American success story. Beloved by esteemed wine critics and publications, Gruet is credited with putting New Mexico, where its headquarters and vineyards are located, on the wine map.
In 2019, VinePair included Gruet’s NV Blanc de Noirs in its 50 Best Wines of 2019. That same year, the bubbly company celebrated its landmark 30th anniversary.
Thirsty for more? Here are eight more things you should know about Gruet.
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Gruet is accessible in every way.
Producing around 275,000 cases of sparkling wine a year and with distribution currently available in 49 states, Gruet’s wines are both easy to find and kind to your wallet. Its labels range from $15 to under $50 for a standard 750-milliliter bottle.
Gruet has roots in France.
Born in Bethon, France, a village located in the revered region of Champagne, the late Gilbert Gruet began his winemaking career on land given to him by his father. Along with his wife, Danielle, the couple established the Bethon-based Gruet et Fils in 1967, focusing on their dream to make fine Champagne. It was at Gruet et Fils that Gilbert’s son Laurent, Gruet’s current head winemaker, first got his winemaking chops.
Gruet’s U.S. expansion began with a vacation and a dream.
In the early 1980s, after news that European winemakers were buying up land in California, Gilbert began exploring the United States’ winemaking regions with dreams of expansion. Inspired by a few French vintners who were experimenting in New Mexico, he turned his focus to the Southwest.
In 1983, the Gruets purchased a small vineyard close to the town of Truth or Consequences that would become the foundation for the famous winery. A year later Laurent and his sister Nathalie (the company’s current president) moved to New Mexico to help make their dad’s vision come true. In 1989, Gruet debuted two sparkling wines in the U.S. market.
Gruet’s New Mexico mission does not include Mission grapes.
Although there had been a tradition of grape growing in New Mexico for centuries (long before Gruet came around and planted its grapes), almost all of Gruet’s wines are made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and in some cases Pinot Meunier. The Mission grape isn’t used much today, though it was the first wine grape to be planted in the United States.
Originally brought to New Mexico via Spain and then Mexico, the Mission grape variety is reported to have been planted in New Mexico as early as the 1620s by Franciscan monks seeking a local source for sacramental wine.
New Mexico’s high-altitude climate is ideal for sparking wines such as Gruet.
It may seem odd that a trip to the American Southwest inspired a Champagne maker, but central and southern New Mexico offered Gilbert what he had been seeking — a place where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, two of Champagne’s main grape varieties, could thrive. The dry New Mexico air and windy conditions help to keep grape rot and pests at bay, while hot days tempered by chilly nights work to prolong the growing season and preserve acidity in the grapes.
Gruet is made using the same method as Champagne.
The méthode Champenoise (Champagne method) or the méthode traditionnel (traditional method), is considered to be the best sparkling wine production. After secondary fermentation has taken place in the bottle, the winemaker uses riddling, a time-consuming method in which each bottle is slowly inverted, in order to disgorge the dead yeast cells, known as the “lees.” The final result is a clear, sparkling wine.
Gruet still has French connections.
In addition to using equipment from France, Gruet also sends samples of its wine for analysis to Dominique Leboeuf, a longtime family friend. Leboeuf, an oenologist for nearly 30 years in Champagne, is also a sparkling wine consultant and conducts lab analysis for luxury Champagne houses, including Moët & Chandon.
Gruet shares a grape-growing partnership with a Native American tribe.
In 2013, in an attempt to diversify its agricultural holdings, the Pueblo of Santa Ana partnered with Gruet in the planting and distribution of a 30-acre vineyard located only a few miles north of Albuquerque. Owned and managed by the Santa Ana Pueblo, the mile-high vineyard named Tamaya has helped fulfill Gruet’s growing need for new sources of grapes, while also creating jobs for the people of the tribe.