If you read our post on White Sands National Monument, you might ask, “What else is there to do in Alamogordo, NM?” My first answer would be not much of anything. But, then I would remember the one time when we saw the world’s largest pistachio.
We stayed in Alamogordo for way too long. After going to White Sands 3 or 4 times and driving all the way to Carlsbad, NM to Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountian National Parks, we were pretty out of things to do. We could have just left early, but with our work schedules and the annoyance of changing around our reservations, we decided to see what else we could find to do.
We found a brochure in the laundry room of the Alamogordo KOA for McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch and Arena Blanca Winery. The advertisement for the “world’s largest pistachio” caught my eye 1- because pistachios happen to be my favorite nut and 2-because who doesn’t love weird roadside attractions?
So, the Saturday before we left New Mexico, we drove to McGinn’s to check it out and sure enough, there it was. We went inside the store and found pistachio everything – from all different flavors of the nut itself to cookies to ice cream, even pistachio-flavored wine.
We signed up for a tour of the of farm and winery and ate our ice cream while we waited for the next tour to begin. I was curious to see how pistachios grow.
We quickly found out that they grow on trees. The pistachio trees are actually a bush naturally, but pistachio farms graft the plant on to a tree root to make them easier to harvest. We also learned that there needs to be a male and female pistachio tree near each other in order for the female trees to produce the nuts. Pretty interesting stuff. We enjoyed the tour of the farm, but of course would have loved to have seen it in the summer when the trees weren’t bare.
McGinn’s also grows their own grapes and make their own wine. After the tour, we felt the experience wouldn’t be complete unless we tried the wine as well. 😉 After trying a sampling of their different wines, we decided to purchase a bottle of the pistachio flavored wine.
Next, we headed over to the next town to check out the Tularosa Vineyards Winery. The tasting room was a lack-luster building out away from the small town. In fact, there wasn’t much that was special about this winery. It didn’t seem like a very popular place. We were the only people in there besides the woman working and a older woman from Texas who had consumed one too many glasses. We paid for the tasting, but none of the wines really stuck out to us, so we didn’t buy a bottle.
Next, we looped back around the other pistachio farm and winery in Alamogordo, Heart of the Desert
After the wine samples, we relaxed on Heart of the Desert’s awesome back patio for a bit enjoying sitting outside in the sun, something that aren’t used to doing in February. Before we left, we purchased a bottle of the pistachio wine and threw in some chocolate and pistachio toffees to round out all our pistachio flavored treats.
It was a fun day that just goes to prove that everything doesn’t have to be planned out. Sometimes the best days come when you least expect them.
P.S. Shout out to the other unexpected best thing about Alamogordo – Lowe’s Market. Best.Grocery.Store.EVER!