Wine in the Desert: El Paso and Sombra Antigua Winery, Texas

Harvest Hosts is a wonderful program which allows RV travelers to stay overnight on a property such as a farm, winery, brewery, or museum parking lot. We were lucky to be guests of Sombra Antigua Winery in Anthony, Texas, 30 minutes outside El Paso.

We pulled up behind an old house and parked by a detached garage, our door facing the dormant grape vines. A friendly calico cat appeared from the garage and greeted us with affection. Our dogs quickly settled outside and relaxed. We were pleasantly surprised to have electric hookup, which meant we could run the house heat and lights, without draining our batteries or making noise with our generator.

There was music and laughter coming from the outdoor seating under a large party tent by the main building, so we went to check it out. Inside, we explored the winery’s tasting options. We settled with beer and wine at one of the outdoor tables. Two live bands got people dancing and singing along. We mingled and met several other patrons, all regulars, coming to enjoy the laid back atmosphere and get away from the big city.

Some of the same laid back vibe was present in El Paso, although the city seemed to sprawl for miles across the mountain, colorful homes packed tightly on the hillsides. The shops’ colorful offerings spilled onto sidewalks, fighting for attention. A sign pointed the way to the pedestrian walk across the border, into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The University of Texas at El Paso towered over the city with its Spanish-style architecture and extensive campus. Opposite side, a large rock sign advises everyone to read the bible: “La Biblia es la verdad. Leela.” (“The Bible is the truth. Read it.”). The sign was installed originally thirty-some years ago as a show of unity between evangelical churches, in hopes of breaking multiple world records in the process, including a Guinness Record for the world’s largest invitation to read the Bible. Each year, 2,000 volunteers refresh the sign.

We parked and walked around a quiet downtown. El Paso has a rich history, and some of its most thriving times still echo in its historic buildings. We admired the art deco Kress building which housed a department store when it first opened in 1907. Sadly, the building stood empty for about 80 years, slowly falling apart. Just recently, a Texas billionaire showed interest (and money) to take over the building and renovate it. He also owns the boutique hotel next door, so this would be a good addition to his plan. The Montgomery Building is the last surviving false-front structure and the oldest existing business building in the City of El Paso, Texas.

We ended our walking tour in San Jacinto Plaza. We stopped by a kiosk to try “champurrado,” a traditional Mexican hot chocolate drink, and I had the opportunity to practice my Spanish with the girl at the window. The drink filled our car with a nice cinnamon and chocolate smell, but it was too sweet for my taste.

Back at the winery, we chilled and spied on a couple of prairie falcons perched in a bare tree, grey on grey.

Our next stop was a unique destination: White Sands National Park, the largest gypsum dune field in the world located in New Mexico, about an hour northeast from the winery.

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