On the road again, Winery Wanderings style. This trip was to visit our new grandson Asher and his big sister Ziva (oh, and their parents too) in Sierra Vista Arizona, about an hour south of Tucson. Of course, we got sidetracked as we usually do. Along with the family trips to the zoo, restaurants and souvenir shopping, much to our surprise, we found out there’s “wine in them thar hills.” I’m a big fan of the old West, so seeing Tombstone and the alleged Gunfight at the OK Corral during a previous visit conjured up some memories of the area. The entire trip felt like a stage coach trip thru Dry Gulch on the way to Woodstock! Seriously, it was so fun.
Our first stop was at Hoppin’ Grapes Beer and Wine Tasting Bar in Sierra Vista. This place was a really cool oasis in the desert. It had couches, tables and comfy chairs and a neighborly bar area where locals and tourists gathered to chat. We certainly didn’t expect what we found once we went inside. We exchanged stories with a couple who had Oregon stories to share and got some great ideas where to head next. We bought a pretty good California Pinot called “Once Upon a Vine,” described as a charming Pinot. It was.
Our next Stage coach stop followed a family trip to the zoo with a gorgeous grandchildren. They went on home with mom and dad while we made a stop at a small, and we mean small, town named Sonoita, one stoplight at the crossroads of “where are we now” and “highway to nowhere.” We started this leg of the trip at Dos Cabezas Wine Works. When we walked in, it felt like we needed to say “Bar-keep, we’re really parched from this long stage coach ride from the Willamette Valley, ya got any Pinot?” That question would have been answered with “you must not be from around these parts.” Dos Cabezas specialized in great red blends, Spanish style. When we told our server we were from Oregon, she immediately pointed out a photo of Dick Erath, one of the godfathers of Oregon wine. Seems Dick was looking for an escape from the winter rains and ended up buying a vineyard in Sonoita, just down the road from Dos Cabezas. They ended up collaborating on a wine before he sold the vineyard and went back to his roots in Oregon to make wines in his garage. We got to try the wine and Dick’s touch was evident, it was delicious. While we were at the tasting bar, we noticed a woman taking pictures with a professional-looking camera. We chatted and found out she was writing a story about B&B’s in Arizona for Phoenix Magazine. Niki gave us an idea for the next stop on the tour.
AZ Hops and Vines was about a mile or so down the dusty trail. We encountered rolling sage brush, howling coyotes and cactus galore on that short trip. All we needed were cowboy hats and boots. No need for six shooters this trip. AZ Hops and Vines is probably the funkiest place we’ve ever encountered on a wine adventure. This was like being dropped off the wagon train and ending up in a spot that’s a cross between Eugene, Oregon and Woodstock. The place was packed with families, kids, hippies, millennials and locals all there to taste some pretty darn good wine.The view of the mountains and the venue itself were both spectacular. Fire pits, board games, corn hole, and every possible seating arrangement you could imagine filled both the inside and outside of the tasting room. The thought of a concert under the stars with the string lights and the mix of folks was enough for us to plan another trip when the grapes were on the vines and it wasn’t 100 degrees in the shade. We’ve heard that it’s a dry heat, not buying that one at all.
Our last stop on this great adventure trip was Bisbee. This is an active copper mining town with great restaurants, shops, art galleries and antique stores. This is a tourist’s dream town. We found another tasting room in town called Flying Leap Vineyards. The tasting room was also an art gallery. Our host was Keith, who was the funniest, snarkiest ever. We thoroughly enjoyed his take on the wines, tourists and overall vibe of Bisbee.