A 'Fact Finding' Mission in Sonoita AZ
by Bruce Porter
There are at least three regions in Arizona producing drinkable wines; Sedona, Wilcox (east of Sonoita) and the Sonoita-Elgin area. In late July, 2012, Wayne, Kathy, Diane and I ventured south to the Sonoita-Elgin area. The area is currently home to about 10 wineries with associated tasting rooms.
Though the number of wineries is small and production tiny compared with more well-known wine areas, it is somewhat balanced by the great hospitality and low tasting prices. You start your tasting at your pick of wineries where the tasting fee will include $5 for a logo glass. Thereafter you carry your glass along and pay only for the tasting-generally $3 to $5. We had collected a Callaghan glass the last time we visited (a large Big Red type of glass) and so began our winery crawl at Sonoita Vineyards, collecting a mid-size glass with a classy logo.
A word of caution if you go. While all of the wineries are open on the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), only some are open during the week. And you may find the weekday schedule varies with the whims of the wine gods. We tried visiting a winery advertising Thursday through Sunday tastings only to find them closed on that particular Thursday. It was no problem for us as we had our trip spanning Friday when all of the wineries are open.
This map of the area with the wineries listed is available here.
The loop you see in the map above is about 15 miles total so you won't spend all of your time driving. The area is, however, a bit over an hour from downtown Tucson.
The really great news that we brought back is that almost all of the wineries are willing to come to our little hamlet of Merrill Ranch to hold a tasting. All things now are tentative, but we are planning this for our February tasting! We will certainly keep you posted.
Following are pictures Kathy took of some of the wineries we visited.
Sonoita Vineyards-Our First Stop
This is Keif Manning, the Wine Maker at Keif-Joshua Vineyards
One of our favorites-Dos Cabezas
Trying to get past the Winery Dog at Lightning Ridge-A harrowing experience!
Ron Roncone, the owner, gave us a great tour. This was our favorite winery. His wife, Ann, is the winemaker and will be coming to Merrill Ranch.
And another run-in with the WD to get into the beautiful back room.
Ron explains the room to Wayne.
And leaving there was just as scary!
Our last stop was Hops and Vines. Yes! They are planning to make both wines (now) and beer (in the near future). Above is Shannon Zouzoulas, one of the two sisters that own and operate the winery/brewery (Megan Haller is the other).
This must have been the only time we stopped laughing the entire time we were at H&V. Shannon only needs a spotlight to do a great stand-up routine. This was truly a highlight of our trip.