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On Walkabout At: Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves, New Mexico

I have posted before about my visit to McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico.  My wife and I really enjoyed that visit and purchasing a number of pistachio packages there.  However, McGinn’s is not the only pistachio ranch outside of Alamogordo.  Just down US-54 from McGinn’s is the Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves:

Picture From the Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves

Eagle Ranch is actually a bigger operation than McGinn’s which is evident by its very large visitor center:

Picture From the Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves

Eagle Ranch describes itself as New Mexico’s first and largest pistachio ranch.  The first pistachio trees were planted here in 1972.  The ranch is owned by the George Schweers family.  Just like with McGinn’s, the Eagle Ranch also has a winery operation as well.  The ranch sells their wine under the Heart of the Desert label along with their pistachios.  Inside the visitor center is where all kinds of different pistachio packages and wines can be purchased:

Picture From the Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves

My wife and I bought both pistachios and wine from the Eagle Ranch and honestly we both agreed that we liked McGinn’s pistachios better because they offered the ranch flavor which Eagle Ranch did not have.  However, the Heart of the Desert wine at Eagle Ranch we thought was a much better wine than what was being sold at McGinn’s.

Outside of the visitor center they don’t have the World’s Largest Pistachio like McGinn’s has, but instead they have a work of art called, The Trail of the Painted Pony:

Picture From the Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves

This horse was sculpted in 2000 and has a number of items hidden on it that visitors are challenged to find.  It took about 15 minutes of looking but my wife and I found all the items hidden on the sculpture.  There was a number of young kids there that were having a blast finding the items as well.  So all in all this was a pretty interesting work of art for people visiting the ranch.

After checking out the sculpture my wife and I then walked over to take a look at the pistachio trees:

Picture From the Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves

Here are some facts about the pistachio tree from the Eagle Ranch website:

The scientific name for the pistachio is Pistacia vera L. It is a member of the family Anacardiaceae which contains such widely known plants as the cashew, mango and poison oak.

It is a deciduous tree, requiring approximately 1,000 hours of temperature at or below 45° F. in order to grow normally after its winter dormancy. Pistachio nut trees, generally, are suited for areas where summers are long, hot and dry, and the winters are moderately cold. A native desert tree, it does not tolerate high humidity in the growing season.

The trees are dormant from December through February and begin to bloom with the arrival of warmer weather in late March. The male pollinates the female via the April winds, and the shell of the nut is fully developed by mid-May. Before June ends, the seed inside the shell has begun its rapid expansion and by the first of August, the seed has filled the shell. The nuts, splitting at the seams, are usually ready to be harvested beginning September 10th. [Eagle Ranch website]

You can read more about the trees at the link but here is a close up look at what the pistachios look like as they grow on the trees:

Picture From the Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves

All in all it is worth visiting both the Eagle Ranch and McGinn’s if visiting Alamogordo in order to try out the various pistachio flavors and wines.  Whenever I am in Alamogordo I always stop by McGinn’s to buy the ranch flavored pistachios and Eagle Ranch to buy a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon.  After visiting both places you will be able to determine what flavors of pistachios and wines you prefer as well.

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