If you aren’t familiar with Harvest Hosts, let me tell you a little bit about them. Harvest Hosts is a membership organization for RVer’s. Members get access to a network of thousands of farms, wineries, breweries, distilleries, museums and most recently, golf courses across the country that let fully self contained RV’s park overnight. In exchange, members make a purchase or otherwise participate in the host’s business. Thanks to our membership we had the opportunity to stay at two incredible wineries in New Mexico and a brewery in Southern Colorado with great beer and a unique backstory. All three experiences were unique and absolutely magical.
Black Mesa Winery
Our first stop was Black Mesa Winery in Velarde, New Mexico; about halfway between Santa Fe and Taos. The winery sits at the base of a sandy, rock strewn hill just across the road from the Rio Grande River. The river valley is green and full of life in contrast to the dry rocky hills on both sides.
The winery is a set of adobe buildings with the vineyard out front beside the parking area and a green lawn with shade trees and tables where you can enjoy your wine tasting while watching the many hummingbirds stopping at feeders hung in the trees. Alex, the person working behind the counter was charming and accommodating and the owner chatted with us briefly. We were even greeted by one of the winery’s cats as we went to take a seat.
The wines were wonderful and we spent time chatting with some other guests from a safe distance. We bought bottles of our favorites and as the sun set, we returned to the RV parked beside the vineyard. After a quiet night, despite being close to the road, we finished our visit by following the trail behind the winery to see ancient petroglyphs.
Wines of the San Juan
After a day of visiting Taos and driving west across New Mexico we came to Wines of the San Juan in Blanco, New Mexico. The drive in makes this place all the more surprising. We drove through desert landscapes, then turned off the main road toward a stand of trees. Once we reached the trees everything changed. The winery sits on the banks of the San Juan River. Huge shade trees covered us from the sun and we were greeted like friends at the outdoor tasting bar. After talking through the menu we each got a glass (or two) and were invited to go sit by the pond.
The pond had tables with umbrellas and the grounds were populated by a menagerie of animals. Two geese weren’t happy that we sat at the table closest to them and they yelled at us for a bit before wandering away in a huff. Then, a family of peacocks walked up to greet us. Finally one of the cats came to say hello.
We sat in the shade enjoying our wine until they closed then we wandered back to Belvedere to make dinner. They were unusual in that they had electric and water hookups and we were the only guests there so we had a very quiet night. In the morning we were stopped on the road by a young cow that had escaped and was standing in the middle of the one lane road. We weren’t stopped for very long and we called the winery to let them know they had an escapee.
Colorado Farm Brewery
A week later, on our way to Great Sand Dunes National Park, we stopped for a night at Colorado Farm Brewery outside Alamosa, Colorado. We thought our GPS was taking us completely the wrong way when we left paved road behind and proceeded down a dirt road for a couple miles, however, we eventually came to another paved road and subsequently learned that we didn’t have to take the dirt road to get there. Anyhoo! We finally made it to their incredibly beautiful location.
The brewery is on the grounds of a family farm. The parking area was alongside a huge field of golden barley that was being harvested the day we visited. We received a very warm, friendly welcome and once we were set up for the night we wandered over to try the beer and get dinner from the food truck they had onsite for the night.
While our beers were being poured we chatted with the owners and learned that the farm has been in the family for four generations. With debt piling up and the barley business dwindling they turned to making barley into malt and became the largest international producer of craft malt. The brewery was founded on the property in 2018. Of course, we had to try the Wheatverly, their estate beer. Every ingredient of which; water, yeast, hops and malt all come from their property. It didn’t disappoint, it tasted fresh and slightly fruity.
The tap room, a former storage shed, was busy and the atmosphere was friendly and casual. The owners told us a lot of the customers are their neighbors from surrounding farms as well as people from town and other Harvest Host guests. Tables are all on a patio, under awnings, looking out over the fields. There was also a large children’s play area with things to climb. We ordered tacos filled with chicken and chorizo and enjoyed the food and the friendly atmosphere until the sunset.
Once the sun started to go down it was time for me to grab my camera and capture one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. The night was quiet and the skies were so dark I was able to do some astrophotography. We were both a little sad when morning came it was time to pack up and leave. But, we may find ourselves making excuses to travel through Alamosa so we can visit them again and again.
So, those were our first experiences. When we became Harvest Host members we were excited to visit these places. Covid got in the way but we finally got to make use of our membership and have been absolutely blown away by how wonderful our first experiences were. We’re looking forward to many more experiences on our travels. If you have a self-contained RV, check out Harvest Hosts and you can have these experiences, too.
Minor Mini Rant – Staying at a Harvest Host is not about a free place to stay; there are Walmarts and Cracker Barrels aplenty if all one needs is a patch of reasonably level ground upon which to park. Harvest Hosts stays are experiences; a chance to see and participate in someone else‘s dream for a little while. There have been reports of RVers abusing this experience which frustrates us, as we get a lot out of and actively seek these kinds of experiences. We want hosts to be glad they are hosts so that we can keep staying with them. The expectation, clearly communicated by the Harvest Host organization, is that guests should follow rules set by the host and expect to support the Host with a purchase. Our rule of thumb is to spend as much as we would on a night of camping at an RV park (okay, sometimes it’s the same as a REALLY NICE RV Park!) If what they have on offer does not appeal to us— which is rarely the case because we are the ones choosing where we stay— it becomes a gift for others. Additionally, we show our appreciation during our visit by trying to be easy guests and afterwards by liking them on social media and writing about our experience in our blog. The hosts get nothing from Harvest Host in payment, and especially in these COVID times, success is a struggle, so we feel it is important to do our part to support these organizations as best we can.
Disclaimer: We are not sponsored by Harvest Hosts. We purchased our membership not long after we took delivery of our RV.