When you think of great wine a few regions come to mind. Napa Valley in California, the Burgundy region in France, and even the Australians are in on the game with big bodied Shiraz red wines “down under.” Yet, did you know that there are even some excellent wines produced in Southern Arizona? Now I’m sure you are thinking, “but wait, that’s a desert!’ It’s true their climate is hot and arid almost year round.
The Sonoita/Elgin Wine Trail is a group of about twelve very special wineries that you can visit to sample exactly the type of wine you want to drink. Easy drinking, full bodied, and fantastic! Here are a few can’t miss stops on the trail for a fun day trip, or long weekend. Just make sure you have a designated driver to be able to properly enjoy all the glorious wine tastings. You can check out the map of all the wineries here, but the ones listed below are some of the best on the list.
Dos Cabezas Wineworks
Start off in the Eastern part of Arizona at the Dos Cabezas Wineworks, located in Sonoita. They are one of the longest running wineries there, established in 1995. So they have been making high quality wines for over 20 years. Don’t leave the wineries without taking a few bottles home of their new “Pink” Rose Wine 2015. It’s only $18.50 per bottle, but it’s lush with soft fruity flavors. They have tastings in their Sonoita Tasting Room going on from Thursday through Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm. Just to give you an idea of where the vineyard is located, they are only about 45 minutes Southeast of Tucson.
Rancho Rossa Vineyards
If you like a dry wine, this is the place to go. This family owned winery uses all their own grapes to make their celebrated wine. They have been around since 1999, have won numerous awards for their blends, and are located in the Elgin area. Rancho Rossa Vineyards has a beautiful website that showcases all the wines they have to offer. Tastings are offered from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm Friday through Sunday. So be sure to hit up this place on the weekends. Give them a call beforehand if you have over 10 in your party, so they can be sure to accommodate you in the best way possible. You can even join their “wine club” which will ship directly to your home twelve different bottle each year, free wine tastings at the vineyard, and you’ll get invited to some of the special events Rancho puts on each year as a “Connoisseur” of their wine club.
Established in 1990, Callaghan Vineyards started as a father and son operations, but has grown considerably over the past two decades. Their tastings run from 10 am to 4 pm, Thursday through Sunday. You also get a souvenir glass when you purchase a tasting for only $10. The owner, and master grower, Kent Callaghan is frequently in the tasting room mingling with guest to find out what they enjoy about his wines. Don’t miss their 2010, Anne’s Selection which is a lush Grenache blend that is only $27 a bottle.
Flying Leap Vineyards
This modern vineyard, Flying Leap is located in Elgin. They offer four different tasting rooms, and three fine art galleries to enjoy. As far as their wine goes, they produce a variety of reds and whites that have routinely won awards each year. The 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent full bodied red that is terrific with a medium rare cut of beef. You can purchase their wines at a 10 percent discount if you become a member of their wine club.
Kief Joshua Vineyards
The KJ Vineyards, are not to be confused with that other winemaker (Kendall Jackson of course), this winery was established in 2002. Even though they aren’t one of the oldest, they certainly have proved themselves lately with their high quality of wine they produce. Tastings on the property run daily, 11 am to 5 pm which is fantastic considering that most of the wineries don’t run during the week. It’s only $8 per person, and you get a complimentary etched wine glass to take home. Don’t miss taking home a few bottles of their 2014 Chenin Blanc which is a dry white with notes of orange, and melon. For $25 a bottle, you might want to secure a whole case of this unique varietal which is excellent with lighter meals of chicken or shellfish.
Village of Elgin Winery
Located in Elgin, this winery produces a variety of reds, whites, and rose. You can visit this winery for daily tastings, but be sure to call ahead to make sure they are open. A special date to visit their is during their Harvesting Wine Festival which is going to be September 17th and 18th this year. They will have extra tastings, and events to enjoy going on the grounds of the vineyard. If you truly want to know how wine is created the educational experience at Elgin will be something to talk about for years to come.
Sip and Savor!
Whether you’re a wine aficionado or enjoy a casual glass of wine in the sunshine, there are plenty of Southern Arizona wineries for you. This is our go-to guide for wineries in Sonoita and Elgin Arizona. Let us know what you think – have you been on the wine trail before? What are your favorite local wineries? Let us know in the comment section below. As always, stay tuned to our blog for all things eat, shop and play.
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