Time to catch up on some of the things Theo and I have been doing these past few months. For much of June and some of July I (Don) was in southeastern Arizona doing research on hummingbirds. Towards the end of my stay Theo was able to join me for a weekend. Even though this was a working trip we were able to squirrel away a day to play and spent it doing a little wine tasting. Believe it or not there are wineries in Arizona! I must admit that I aways laugh when coming into the tiny town of Sonoita, AZ (google it) where I encounter a sign that says “Welcome to Wine Country.” It is hard to imagine any sort of wine grape growing in the hills surrounding the Sonoran Desert! But indeed there are several small wineries in and around the Sonoita area.
Theo and I visited a total of 6 wineries on our excursion. Here are the highlights. The best wine came from our first stop at Callahhan’s Vineyard. What was interesting here was that they produced some varietals from grapes sourced in California (many of the wineries here get California grapes). Frankly these wines were pretty mediocre. However, the red blends they produced from their estate grapes were better than average and we purchased some to have with dinner that evening. The winery itself isn’t much but the winemaker is talented, fun and we had a good time. Good thing too since the quality of the wines went down hill pretty much the rest of the day.
The most elaborate tasting room award goes to Kief-Joshua Vineyards. Their wines were nothing to write home about tasting very green and tart, but the facilities were palacial compared to every place else we went. The building was designed somewhat like a castle and the interior was upscale for SE Arizona. They sold gourmet foods and their winemaker (I think he was there winemaker) was carrying a wallaby around in an artificial pouch! Where else in Arizona are your going to see a wallaby? We had a fun time just immersing ourselves in the environment of this winery.
The most unique winery feature was at Canelo Hills Winery. Here they had a really unique bottle garden with which Theo became intensely fascinated. In fact she actually started posing for several pictures in this bottle garden which is totally out of character for her. The winery had a bottle archway, bottle tree, and many bottle impaled in the ground. Their wines were okay but I honestly think we spent more time outside the winery than inside.
I think the funnest winery of the day was our last stop at Hops and Vines which was actually just outside of Sonita. Hops and Vines probably had the second best wines we had during our journey and was the only winery that served sparkling. Theo’s biggest catch here was a tortilla warmer that she purchased from a woman selling her wares in the winery. This winery plans to also build a brewery (thus the name Hops and Vines) although that will happen sometime down the road. The winery had somewhat of a “bar” kind of feel which I think will appeal to the more casual, none traditional wine taster.
I cannot end without acknowledgement of Theo’s ability to bond with just about any winery dog on the planet. When we visited Rancho Rossa Theo was immediately attracted to their pooch and spent more time giving “tummy rubs” than tasting wine. Perhaps she was just missing Zoie, but I’ve seen her latch on to dogs and pretty much every winery we have visited that has one. I think we might have bought some wine here and if we did the dog did more to sell it that the quality of the wine. Guess the dog needs to ask for a commission! A short slide show of our adventure is below. If you want to see the entire photo album from the trip click here.
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