The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Route 66 oral history workshop

The National Park Service, through the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, is providing free training for anyone interested in collecting the oral history of Route 66. The New Mexico workshop will be held on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque on August 23 and 24.

David Dunaway, coeditor of the classic Oral History: An Interdisciplinary Anthology, spent three years documenting Route 66’s overlooked stories and forgotten places for the seventy-fifth anniversary of Route 66 for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and Public Radio International.

“For me, Route 66 is a corridor in time as well as place—a grand avenue into exploring American history. Route 66’s image as a place for cruising and nostalgia is giving way to a broader understanding of communities and peoples left standing in the dust as the travelers passed. The old road lives on. For the most part, where the pavement remains, the people remained. Though there are places without historic markers, there’s always someone who remembers.”

The workshop will offer tips on recording, prioritizing and organizing interviews, and finding sources for basic research. Each participant will receive a free oral-history handbook. Registration is first come, first served (limit of twenty-two participants), and will be open until August 15. For more information, contact Charlotte Little at (505) 345-0185 or at


County line—

Fair brings young energy and fun to county

Jack E. Thomas
Sandoval County Board of Commissioners

Sometimes it takes a hot, dusty day among horses and horseflies to gain a refreshing perspective of the programs that help mold our children.

That's what I learned during the daylong competition to select a queen and court for this year's Sandoval County Fair: Youth programs that promote self-development and responsibility are excellent investments. They pay lifelong dividends for the kids and society.

The county-queen competition, held on a sweltering mid-July day in a riding ring behind CWW Feed in San Ysidro, attracted some of the county's most talented young horsewomen. While competency and handling of horses play a major role, contestants also are judged on sportsmanship, public speaking, and modeling.

Ketura Martin, eighteen, of Corrales, a recent graduate from the New Mexico School for the Deaf, was selected by the judges to represent the county for the coming year and compete at the New Mexico State Fair in September. Ketura will be crowned county queen on Sunday, August 3, the final day of this year's county fair in Cuba. Judges selected Angela Stash, thirteen, of Jemez Pueblo as fair princess and Renee Dill, ten, of Jemez Springs, as fair sweetheart.

Contestants represented a broad swath of Sandoval County, from Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, and other municipalities to the county's more rural, unincorporated areas. The entrants, without exception, exemplify the spirit and the value of such programs as 4-H which help our youth develop caring, responsible attitudes and productive talents.

 Ketura is a native of India who was adopted by the Martin family when she was eighteen months old. She summed up the spirit of 4-H by explaining she entered the county's queen competition in order to serve as an example for the deaf and to help teach others that "we all live in the same universe."

That willingness to accept responsibility and desire to assist others will be evident throughout the four-day Sandoval County Fair and Rodeo. All events are being held at the county fairgrounds in the cool mountains just south of Cuba. Now in its twenty-seventh year, the county fair just keeps getting better.

The fair offers attractions and happenings for the entire family to enjoy, while showcasing the rich diversity and heritage that make Sandoval County truly unique.

Events include a ranch rodeo, a youth horse show open to anyone nineteen or under, and a showmanship round-robin. Other events include a Western cook-off and quilt competitions, an arts and crafts fair, team roping, and an animal scramble. Still other attractions include a highly popular 4-H livestock auction where bidders can buy anything from chickens to steers, a battle of the bands concert, a Saturday-morning parade, and an evening family dance. In addition to livestock, Sandoval County residents will exhibit baked goods and arts and crafts. New this year is Kids for all Ages"entertainment that will include train rides, a petting zoo, a jumping castle and Sandy Candy, as well as carnival games for, well, kids of all ages. A farmers market, meanwhile, will host local farmers and producers who will be offering their best and freshest. Also being held this year is a Farmers Crafts for All Seasons outdoor arts and craft show that will feature displays and goods for sale by some of the finest artists and craftsmen from around the Southwest.

The Sandoval County Fair has grown considerably since it was conceived almost three decades ago by a handful of motivated kids who wanted to get folks together and see what other people were producing. While their idea was a way to have good old-fashioned fun, the development of our youth and the celebrations of their successes in a wholesome, family-oriented atmosphere is a concept that never becomes outdated.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Thomas may be mailed to him in care of Sandoval County Administrative Offices, P.O. Box 40, Bernalillo 87004.


Sandoval County Tourism Council receives $3,500 grant 

The Sandoval County Tourism Council has received a grant of $3,500 from the Rural Economic Development Through Tourism Project.

The grant will help pay for:

  1. Renovation of a billboard encouraging visitors to come to Cuba, New Mexico. The billboard is located at the south end of the Village of Cuba on New Mexico Highway 550;
  2. Familiarization tours of Cuba and surrounding attractions for (a) regional traveler writers, and (b) managers and employees of regional corporations, lodging facilities, and casinos to help increase visitation to the area. The tours will be conducted in conjunction with the Cuba High Travel Academy of Cuba High School;
  3. Development of a tourism Web site for Cuba to educate a vastly wider visitation base about the attractions of Cuba and the surrounding area, including festivals and tours; and
  4. Production of brochures educating visitors about Cuba. The brochures will be distributed at locations in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The Sandoval County Tourism Council has received a total of $10,386 in grant funds from REDTT since Sandoval County joined the REDTT service area in 2000.

“REDTT is pleased and proud to assist the Sandoval County Tourism Council with these important tourism initiatives,” said Mike Cook, REDTT director. “We are confident they will increase visitation to Cuba and the surrounding area and bring additional dollars to the local economy.”

REDTT is part of the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service providing education, training, and technical assistance to sixteen New Mexico counties.


Wine making in New Mexico

Todd Burns

The New Mexico Wine Festival in Bernalillo will take place on Labor Day weekend. With a host of commercial wineries participating, those attending the festivities will learn that New Mexico has a long tradition of great wine.

The Spanish introduced wine to the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico almost four hundred years ago. New Mexico was home to twenty-one commercial wineries in 1997.

The process of making wine has been a continuing tradition in New Mexico since the Spanish first introduced [viable] grapes to the region. The first vines planted in New Mexico were at a Piro Indian pueblo south of modern-day Socorro, known as Senecú. These grapes were commonly known as “mission grapes.” The purpose behind planting the vines was to solve problems in receiving wine from Spain.

Spain maintained a policy that no wine could be made in the New World. This policy forced those living across the ocean to purchase wine directly from Spain, thus supporting the Spanish economy. The difficult was supplying enough wine for the Eucharist to the missions in remote areas like New Mexico.

Sacramental wine, known as Angelica, was procured in Spain, shipped to Veracruz, Mexico, then taken overland by oxen to Mexico City and then north on the Camino Real (Royal Road) to New Mexico. Supply trains returned to New Mexico once every three years and carried about forty-five gallons of wine. This was to be distributed equally among all the missions in the northern territory.

The Church decided to solve the problem by ignoring the Spanish law and planting grapevines in Senecú. Fray García de Zuñiga, a Franciscan, planted the first vines in 1629. The wines created were about 12 percent alcohol and not the Church standard of 18 percent, but there were no complaints.

Wine production expanded and in the 1880s New Mexico made close to a million gallons of wine, outproducing California. The 1900s were not so favorable to New Mexico’s wines. The Rio Grande flooded in 1904 and again in 1926, killing the majority of the grapevines along the river from Bernalillo to El Paso. Prohibition began in 1919 and did not offer much help to the industry, but old habits and traditions do not easily fade into obscurity.

Victor Trujillo is the owner and operator of Victor’s Grape Arbor in Albuquerque. He supplies all the necessary tools for making beer and wine, along with thirty years of knowledge and experience. Framed and posted on the wall of Trujillo’s store is his grandfather’s handwritten recipe for cherry wine from 1922. Trujillo described how his grandfather, Guadalupe Rivera, continued to make wine in Corrales during Prohibition. Since growing grapes during Prohibition was not illegal, the actual number of vines in the state doubled between 1920 and 1930.

During the early twentieth century, immigrants from around the world came to the United States looking for a better life. Besides their simple belongings, these people brought their knowledge of wine. This was the story of Angelo Taraddei. Pete Taraddei Sr., son of Angelo Taraddei, said his family brought their wine-making traditions from Europe.

“My father and uncle purchased sixty acres here in Placitas in 1929,” Taraddei Sr. said. “They planted three and a half acres of vines, about five thousand vines.”

Angelo Taraddei came from Italy. His knowledge of wine came from his father, who learned it from his father. Generations of wine-making knowledge were brought to New Mexico. Once the vines are planted, the average time for a vineyard to produce a substantial crop is three years, and by 1932 the Taraddei vineyards were at full capacity, creating two to three hundred gallons of wine. Taraddei Sr. said that the process they used to make wine when he was a child has not really changed.

“Then we didn’t have any additives or yeast,” he said. “We just used the natural yeast that was on the grapes. We used oak barrels for the primary and secondary fermentation and for storage. Still, we rarely bottle, we just dip into the barrel and take what we need.”

Taraddei Sr. still speaks of his wine making in the present tense. He had a stroke several years ago and is on medication. The fact is that he plowed under his vines five years ago to make permanent pasture.

“It hurt like hell to do it,” Taraddei Sr. said. “I just couldn’t do it by myself anymore.”

Just when the future of old wine-making traditions looked bleak, someone else stepped up as Taraddei Sr. moved on. Steven Duran of Placitas became a student of Taraddei Sr. at age fourteen and continues the winemaking tradition using a variety of fruits.

“I make fruit wines. Cherry, peach, and apricot,” Duran said. “I made about 150 gallons last year. Fifty gallons of cherry, fifty gallons of apricot, and fifty gallons of peach.”

Duran said he acquires all the fruit from neighbors in the village of Placitas. He uses the methods and recipes given to him by Taraddei Sr.

Homemade wine is nothing new to New Mexico. Like the wild horses that still run free in Placitas, the Spanish tradition of wine making at home has endured into the space age.






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