This is one happy dog. Headed out for a road trip to enjoy Southern Arizona wine country. Getting ready to go is always exciting for Achilles and Daisy. They know once we start packing up the RV (aka Bigfoot) they are going on their next great adventure. And in case you haven’t noticed yet, we include them in almost everything.
We left for the trip on May 5, 2016 and no Cinco de Mayo would be complete without margaritas. So of course, once we reached our destination for the evening we broke out the tequila and the blender and whipped some up Puckett style. It was a great way to prep our livers for all the fun we were about to have sampling the local fruit. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
As you cross over the hills into Sonoita from I-10 the desert landscape morphs into a vast expanse of rolling hills, grassy plains and cattle grazing lands.
After seeing this it was not very surprising to learn that the movie Oklahoma was actually filmed not in Oklahoma, but right here in this area.
While the area was originally settled by castle ranchers and miners, it apparently didn’t take long for Dr. Gordon Dutt, founder of the original Sonoita Vineyards, to realize the higher elevation, lower temperatures and rich soil make this a great climate for growing grapes.
Since we had our home on wheels, and Sonoita, Arizona is surrounded by beautiful natural areas, we decided to setup camp in the Coronado National Forest, just on the edge of town.
If you don’t have your own place to stay don’t worry. You can book a room at the Sonoita Inn or a local B&B.
The last time we were in the area we stayed at the Xanadu Ranch and loved it. We had a private little bunk house with a patio where we could sit and enjoy our wines.
And in the morning the horses came by to greet us. The hospitality was amazing and the people there were all very friendly.
We grilled most of our own meals at our campsite, but there are several local restaurants you can eat at. We stopped into the Steak Out Restaurant & Saloon for a cocktail and some juicy beef.
Unfortunately, we were disappointed to find that the bar service was a bit slow, they were out of prime rib, and the steaks were slightly overcooked. In all fairness, the horse races were that day and it was pretty busy. But the portions were quite large and they had live music.
If you want to try your hand at preparing some of the local favorites, a few of the wineries and stores sell local cookbooks, or you can find them online, like this one.
The stunning sunset views were delightful after a day of wine tasting and adventure. The weather is beautiful this time of year with night time temperatures in the 60’s and a nice breeze. We were also far enough from the glow of Tucson to enjoy the beauty of a nightime sky full of stars.
While in the Sonoita area, we visited several of the local wineries. We had visited most of them before a few years ago, but it is always fun to go back and sample new offerings.
You can find maps of the wineries online from the Arizona Wine Growers Association or at local establishments throughout the area.
If you keep you eyes open while you are driving around, you might get to see the beautiful pronghorn that roam through this area. While numbers were once dwindling, efforts by volunteers and locals have helped the herd to flourish and thrive.
Don’t drink and Drive! If you’re out wine tasting make sure you have a designated driver or an alternate way to get home or back to your hotel. Click here now to get your first ride free with Uber.
There are also some services like Sonoitawinetours.com that for a fee will provide transportation to the various wineries if you don’t want to drive your own vehicle.
Make sure to check hours for the tasting rooms you want to visit. Some of them are open 7 days a week, while others are only open on weekends. We missed a couple we would have liked to visit on this trip because we didn’t get to them over the weekend.
Also check their event schedules on their websites or facebook pages, as many of them have celebrations throughout the year, especially during the summer months, including campouts, harvest festivals, “I Love Lucy” style grape stomps, live concerts, drag races, and much more!
Most of the wineries offer discounts on tastings if you bring your own glass,
but then you don’t get their stylized stemwear to keep as a souvenir of your adventure.
At Dos Cabezas we opted for the plastic variety as they are great for RV travel and hard to break when you’ve had one or two bottles too many.
Each of the wineries in the area has something a little different to offer. Some like Village of Elgin have a nice selection of sweet wines,
while others like Kief-Joshua Vineyards offer a dryer selection
If its quirky and fun you’re looking for, AZ Hops and Vines is the place to go.
With that kind of variety, everyone in your group is sure to find something they will like.
Stay tuned to learn more about some our favories, as we will post some individual reviews.
While wine tasting is quite enjoyable, visiting too many wineries in one day can leave your head spinning. So we took some time in between tastings to to do a little sight seeing in the area, including:
• Hiking in the Coronado National Forest
• Spelunking at Colossal Cave
• Gun fights at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone
• Ghost hunting in Bisbee; and
• Bird watching at the San Pedro House
We’ll be sharing more about each of these adventures in separate posts. Keep checking back for updates!