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Mesilla Valley

Technical Summary

This AVA was established in March of 1985 and contains portions of New Mexico as well as Texas. The Texas portion of the Mesilla Valley viticultural area is located north and west of El Paso within El Paso County, Texas. The largest portion of the AVA is located in Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate arrived in the area in 1598 and named a Native American village in the valley Trenquel de la Mesilla, from which the valley as a whole became known as Mesilla Valley. Although viticulture began in nearby El Paso as early as 1650, grapes were first planted in the Mesilla Valley only in the early twentieth century, near the town of Doña Ana. This AVA is relatively high in elevation especially along the eastern edge of the region, with a total area of appproximately 280,000 acres. The elevation ranges from 1134-1302m with the lowest areas located to the extreme western portions of the AVA. The landscape is dominated by the Franklin mountains of El Paso and the Rio Grande river which flows southward through western Mesilla Valley and swings eastward through El Paso del Norte [Pass of the North] on the southeastern margin of the Franklins. It continues its eastward flow from there to the Gulf of Mexico

Soils

This AVA has the following soil associations; Delnotre-Canutio-Nickel, Glendale-Armijo-Harkey, Pintura-Bluepoint-Wink, and Rock Outcrop-Brewster-Volco. The texture of the soils is mostly sand, loam, and clay loam but heavily dominated by sand and clay loam. The average soil depth of the Mesilla Valley AVA soils is 125cm with bulk density values of 1.65g/cm3 Available water capacity (AWC) ranges from 3cm to 19cm in some areas while overall average AWC is 9.83cm and permeability rate averages at11.81cm/hr. The pH values in this AVA are very basic with a range between 7.60 and 9.0; average value for soil pH in this region is approximately 8.06.

Climate

The climate in Mesilla Valley AVA is characterized by moderate variation of minimum temperature in the winter months followed by more gradual fluctuation of temperature minimums in the summer months. The values for minimum temperature in the winter drop as low as -9ºC and as high as 8ºc in mid February. The average temperature readings in the winter months show tremendous variation. There are often periods where days are relatively warm and nights are extremely cold. During the summer months there is less variation, but values seem to be again influenced by maximum temperatures. Maximum temperature values in the winter months are well above 20ºC while summer months are extremely hot. Readings in the summer are as high as 40ºC from mid June to early August. The average annual precipitation is the lowest of all Texas AVAs and ranges from 20-29cm with the greatest precipitation experienced in the eastern parts of the region.

The Cumulative growing degree days (April-October, 10ºC base) in the region ranges from 2480 to 2849 days (ºC). There is more solar radiation experienced in the north and western parts of the AVA with no visible trends that can be attributed to elevation. There is high vapor pressure during the ripening period months in areas of higher elevation. High vapor pressure is also experienced in early spring and summer in areas of lower elevation. Even though areas in the east at higher elevations have more frost days, there is not much difference in the total number of frost days over the entire region.

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