Arizona Wine Vineyards
Most Arizona wine vineyards are located south of Tucson in the Elgin/Sonoita area and a few have tasting rooms located within the city. Although the first wine vineyards were planted by Jesuits in the 16th century, it wasn’t until the end of Prohibition in 1933 that serious grape planting began. It would prove to be a slow start in Arizona since many vineyards have come into being only in the past ten years. But these wineries have every reason to be proud of their products.
People generally associate good wine with California and the west coast but Arizona’s soil, climate and elevation are uniquely suited to certain types of grape growing and more than 50 Arizona wine vineyards are well known producers of fine vintages. The following vineyards represent just a few of the grape growers you might like to visit in Arizona. (Check individual websites for the best time to visit).
Charron Vineyards (pictured above) has been owned and operated by Milton & Susan Craig since 2009. One of southern Arizona’s oldest vineyards, it planted its first Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines in 1994 and has produced several award winning vintages. In 2000, its White Merlot won the Governor’s Award and has sold out every year since then. They offer 14 unique wines in their tasting room, open Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM.. Charron is located less than 30 minutes from downtown Tucson between Vail and Sonoita. From Interstate 10 take Exit 281 to Hwy 83 (approx 25 miles East of Tucson). Signposted Sonoita & Patagonia, the Charron Vineyards Attraction sign is at mile marker 53.
Family owned Callaghan Vineyards was established in 1990 in Sonoita, AZ. Le Monde, the Parisian newspaper, listed Callahan as one of the six most interesting wineries in the US. Dubbed an Arizona Treasure by former Governor Brewer, Kent Callahan has won numerous awards for his wines which were also served at President Clinton’s last state dinner in 2000, and at Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement dinner in 2006.
The Sonoita AVA (American Viticultural Area) is one of the first wine-growing regions in the United States to be granted AVA status, and the area is currently the only federally recognized wine growing region in the state of Arizona. USA Today listed the Elgin/Sonoita area as one of the top ten wine trails in the US.
Sonoita Vineyards is the oldest commercial vineyard and winery in AZ. It opened in 1983 and incorporates 30 acres of vines. Festivals here include the Blessing of Sonoita Vineyards, April 25 & 26, 2015 – with tastings, pairings, & tours of the vineyard.The Harvest Fest, July 25 & 26, 2015, features wine stomping competitions and horse drawn vineyard tours.
The Village of Elgin Winery claims to be the largest producer of wine in the Sonoita AVA. Also family owned, this winery produces in the traditional manner, aged in European wood. Visit the vineyard and beautiful grounds, tour the bottling process, and see the on-site chapel, La Capilla de Santa Maria. The Harvesting of the Vine Festival is scheduled September 19 and 20, 2015. Tickets include admission, wine glass, food, music and arts & crafts.
Dos Cabezas Wineworks has been producing wines in Arizona since 1995. Famed Arizona winemaker, Kent Callahan, (see Callahan’s Vineyard above) was the original winemaker for Dos Cabazas. The winery was moved to Sonoita close to the current family owners’ Pronghorn Vineyard in Elgin in 2003.They are exceptionally proud of the wine produced here and invite you to visit their tasting room year round. The fee includes a souvenir wine glass.Locally the wine is available at AJ’s Fine Foods and Whole Foods in Tucson.
Wine Tasting Rooms:
And for those less inclined to drive longer distances, you can sample Arizona Wine Vineyard products in these three Tucson wine tasting rooms. For twenty years Bear Track Winery has provided wines they make themselves from freshly harvested grapes to produce full bodied wines unique to the Sonoran Desert. You’ll find them in the Catalina Foothills at 4743 E. Sunrise Drive. Open Tuesday through Friday 5-9 PM. Phone 520-975-0050 for information.
Flying Leap Vineyards, with two vineyards in Elgin, operates one of its four tasting rooms in Tucson at St. Philip’s Plaza, 4330 N. Campbell, Suite 48. Hours vary according to the day but they serve Saturdays from 9 AM to 8PM. Call for details 520-299-VINE. Their award winning wines are sold in specialty stores and at major wine retailers.
Sierra Bonita Vineyards is named for its location near the historic Sierra Bonita Ranch established in 1872. A more recent addition to fine southern Arizona wine making, Sierra Bonita released its first wines in 2011, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Syrah.They describe themselves as an eco-friendly vineyard. Their tasting room is at 6720 E. Camino Principal, Suite 101. Hours are Thursday – Saturday, 4-8 PM. Saturday & Sunday, 12PM to 6PM. Phone 520-296-0674
And if you’re visiting Sam Hughes Inn, most of these vineyards are located only an hour or so by car from Tucson.Put wineries on your to-do list while searching for interesting attractions. Soak up the atmosphere at one or more of these vineyards while touring southern Arizona, Raise a glass and toast the great weather, the beautiful scenery and sample an award winning variety of locally crafted wines.