Heading on up the road (I-17) to Arizona's North Central Wine Country.
Yesterday we, and by we I mean my wife, myself, and two other couples who are dear friends, took about a two hour trip up the freeway to one of Arizona's wine countries in the making.. There is one down south around Elgin and Sonoita, not far past where one can see the marvelous Kartchner Caverns, and we had originally planned to go down there, but a nasty hail storm wiped out most of the region's crop and shame on us, we really wanted a bit of lovely wine country scenery, so we switched agendas and went the opposite direction towards Cornville and Page Springs.
Page Springs Winery was our first stop. Very nice facility, a lovely bit of vineyard surrounding the place and, wouldn't you know it, the one wine we liked was the most expensive on the list. Had to pass it by. Felt bad about it, but it seemed wise to continue on in search of more pocketbook friendly discoveries.
Another little shot from Page Springs.
Just down the road at Oak Creek Winery we found a more modest establishment, our pourer was brand new to the job, and the bathroom was all but inaccessible unless one literally parked outside the door. Steady stream of slightly desperate ladies, don't you know. But we found a lovely red called "Sedona Woman" and just had to get a bottle. It is being set aside for a special occasion, like Thanksgiving, Easter or winning the lottery. We are counting on all three happening sometime within the next several months.
Outside the Oakcreek tasting room were a few picnic tables. We availed ourselves and laid out a nice spread of cheeses, bread, fruit, meat and scones. A most satisfactory meal.
Our third stop was at Javalina Leap. There we enjoyed an informative and entertaining tour conducted by a former college professor who wielded a walking stick as a pointer and who flavored his lecture with a slightly salty vocabulary. We learned about vine abuse, "terroire" "brix", the advantage of having no top soil, and the use of the Tom Sawyer approved "whitewashing the fence" approach to getting volunteers to work in the vineyard. I was also tickled to hear him use the word "plonk" in reference to poorly made wine (thank you, Lexi!). Considering the fact that he looked a bit like Rumpole of the Bailey, I should have expected as much. For those of you who have never read John Mortimer's wonderful Rumpole books, may I recommend you correct the situation at your earliest possible convenience.
We even had the opportunity to get a whiff and feel the heat rising from the fermenting grapes.
We ended our four winery tour at Alcantara. It is a bit more out of the way, down a dusty dirt road, but once there the environment is lovely, the tasting room is more of a living room with big leather furniture, and just down the hill is the Verde River. Oh, and we found another must have bottle in their Native Harvest.
So far the north central Arizona wine country has no vistas quite like this one we enjoyed earlier this summer in Temecula, California. It is a modest beginning to what may become a vital wine producing region, time will tell. But it was a lovely day spent with friends. Tough to beat.