After spending a glorious week on the Northern California Coast, I was picked up at the Albuquerque Airport by my daughter Genevieve.
She was returning home from Truth or Consequences, where she had gone for a few days to “take the waters.”
We were spending the night at the St. Francis Hotel in Santa Fe, where we had a 5 pm date to taste sparkling wines at the Gruet Winery Santa Fe Tasting Room (at the St. Francis). Luckily my flight was on time, my daughter, as always was prompt and after an essential stop for coffee, we headed north to the State Capitol.
Santa Fe is a beautiful city at any time of year, but most especially in the Spring, when the lilacs bloom and blossoms adorn the fruit trees all over town.
I checked in while Genevieve went to park and we met in the Gruet Room, off the hotel’s lobby.
Heritage Hotels and Resorts (who have recently acquired the Inn At Loretto along with the chapel with the mysterious staircase), pride themselves on offering a distinctly New Mexican experience at each of their gorgeously appointed properties. I’ve featured several of them here on the blog and the St. Francis did not disappoint.
I found my daughter at the bar in the Gruet Room, where the bartender, Hannah, was already pouring our first glass.
Heritage partnered with the Gruet Winery to open this new Santa Fe tasting room in September 2016.
For more than 30 years, Laurent Gruet has been producing premium sparkling wines using the same methods his father, Gilbert Gruet, did at their family’s Champagne House in Bethon, France.
The tasting room (at the St. Francis) is a place to learn about the Gruet Story and enjoy its nationally acclaimed sparking wines and bubbly cocktails. For $10.00 you get to taste 5 wines.
My daughter, who is studying to be a sommelier and will be working at The ( soon to open), Cellar at Cid’s (read all about it here, next week), in Taos, took notes as we tasted. We started with a 2011 Sauvage Blanc du Blanc. Aged 4 years, it was pleasingly dry. It was followed by a Blanc du Noir, which tasted faintly nutty, but my daughter’s notes include cocoa and raspberry.
After the Cuvee Danielle – a delightful wine – we decided a cheese plate was in order, so we chose one of the two they offered. The unusual and very creamy selection of Italian cheeses, paired brilliantly with our next two wines; a surprisingly not sweet, demi sec and finally a Chardonnay (not sparkling), which my daughter described as “angular on the palate, and a bit too herbal.” To me it was a little sharp. It had a ‘bite.”
The room (and its adjoining patio) had filled up while we enjoyed our wines and cheese, and they were closing for a private event in less than an hour, so after finishing our last glass and settling up with Hannah, we headed upstairs to our room.
The Hotel St. Francis is situated right in the heart of Santa Fe’s Historical district. It has a long history, being the oldest hotel in town and, some say, the most haunted. In fact, the concierge hands out info on the ghosts along with your room key!
Renamed for Santa Fe’s patron saint, the Hotel was originally called the De Vargas. After it burned to the ground in 1922, it was rebuilt and known as a workingman’s Inn until it was purchased and remodelled in 1986. Heritage Hotels and Resorts acquired management of the hotel in 2008 and purchased the leasehold.
The design inspiration comes from the patron saint of Santa Fe, St. Francis of Assisi. a wealthy nobleman who gave up his life of privilege to follow the teachings of Jesus. He founded the Franciscan Order, whose missionaries significantly influenced the settlement of Santa Fe and northern New Mexico, with religion, architecture, agriculture and artistry..
Our room was light, bright and extremely comfortable. Despite the intentionally spartan design – a nod to Franciscan simplicity – the beds were made up with Frette linens and mounds of down pillows.
The bathroom was tiled in marble and appointed with lovely amenities and thick, fluffy towels so I immediately ran a bath to wash away the travel dust before we went out for dinner.
We could have easily stayed at the hotel and eaten in one of their fine restaurants (see the link below this post for more info on the St. Francis and all it offers to locals and visitors), but we decided to walk across town to Joseph’s instead.
The owner and chef, Joseph Wrede (and his wife, artist and decorative painter Kristen ) lived in Taos for many years before moving with their kids (and their fabulous restaurant), to Santa Fe.
Joe is an unbelievably talented chef and I was excited to see what new dishes he’d been busy cooking up.
(FYI Joe makes THE best Steak au poivre ever). Full stop.
We decided to sit at the bar and I went to the kitchen door to say hello.
Joe came out and chatted with us for a bit before returning to the helm of his very tight ship. The restaurant was packed and there was food to make and plate.
While perusing our menus, we were suddenly presented with a plate of ahi tuna carpaccio wrapped around grapefruit and orange sections with a tamari ginger dipping sauce on the side. Light and delicious.
Two glasses of prosecco were poured and duck fat fries replaced the empty plate the tuna had arrived on.
We ordered a salad and lamb neck confit which we shared, (being almost full from our appetizers), along with glasses of wine. Needless to say, we had zero room (or desire) for dessert, so we settled up, thanked Joe with hugs and more hugs and headed out into the chilly Spring night
The food was simply out of this world, and we both mourned Taos’ loss of Joe, (while at the same time acknowledging the excuse to visit Santa Fe more frequently), as we walked back to the St. Francis Hotel, totally satiated and ready for a good night’s sleep in those pristine, luxury linens, too travel weary and exhausted to even notice a ghost!
For more information about the Hotel St. Francis and the Gruet Tasting Room, please visit the links below.
Joseph’s site is also linked below this post.
All images of the St. Francis Hotel c/o Heritage Hotels and Resorts.
Photo of Joseph’s (with angel) thanks to Joe Wrede.
Detail shots by Genevieve Oswald