It’s ok, I didn’t get it at first either, but there is actually a little wine country located in the heart of the desert Southwest.
There are 16 established wineries and many more up and coming. While each location is open for tastings, there is a really warm community atmosphere between the vineyards. You can buy glasses at any vineyard, do a tasting and take the glasses to the next vineyard for a discounted tasting. Many of the vineyards are just minutes apart. It’s a fun way to experience a lot of unique wines and collect a little souvenir along the way too.
We visited three different vineyards right outside of Sierra Vista, AZ. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection and variety. Each vineyard offered something entirely distinct and original from the others.
This was our first stop. I’ll admit, we were skeptics! After having traveled to Napa Valley, I really wasn’t sure what we were getting ourselves into. However, we were drawn to this vineyard by it’s allure of having been served at the White House.
I do have to say that I’m sorry in advance about the lack of wine reviews. While I fancy a glass every once in awhile, I am really not too much of a wine connoisseur…
- The Ann, a 2009 Muscat-y blend
- Buena Suerte, a spicy 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon blend
- Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008
I remember really enjoying the cabernet sauv. but after tasting the other two, I might have had a bit of an unfair bias…
Next Stop was Kief-Joshua Vineyards. We honestly didn’t plan to visit more than one vineyard, but it was literally right up the road and open for tastings.
Ok, I’ll admit things get a little bit hazy here. But not so much because of the wine… It’s more the fact that it’s been a little over a week since my visit. 😉
Again we sampled three wines.
- 2010 Sauvignon Blanc – Fruity, dry and there was a definite “light grassiness” in the taste. I remember being slightly puzzled after reading that in the brochure, but it’s there and adds a crisp, summery feel to the wine.
- 2009 Mourvedre
- 2009 Tempranillo
Both of the reds that we tried were a little on the strong side for me. This vineyard is advertised as having dry, full-bodied wines and I really feel that was an accurate description. These were wines that I know would go well with a roast, steak or a hearty pasta dish, but maybe not something I would choose to drink unaccompanied. Hence, the beauty of a wine tasting.
We were served by the owner himself, Kief Joshua Manning. A very friendly and knowledgeable guy, but really, it’s hard to believe he is the owner and take in all that he’s done, he looks so young! Definitely someone who is very driven. It will be fun to watch how his vineyard evolves in the future.
Again, we thought our tour of AZ wine country was complete, but at the suggestion of Kief Manning we decided to make one last stop to Lightning Ridge Cellars.
Immediately upon arrival we were greeted by the sweetest guard dog I’ve ever met.
I have to say that I really enjoyed our experience at this vineyard. It was the most intimate of our three stops. We got to chat quite awhile with one of the owner’s, learn about the vineyard and their experiences as wine-makers. I also found out that the husband and wife are both engineers! Awesome!! Ok, so most of the wine-talk went right over my head, but it was fun to finally relax a bit and talk some shop. It’s not every day that you meet someone who shares a background in optics. 🙂
Here we tried 4 different wines.
Overall, I enjoyed these selections the most. And not just because it was made by engineers that happened to fall in love over a cubicle wall, *sigh* too cute, right? But because these were more traditional wines, and more along the lines of what I prefer to drink.
To the best my memory serves me…
- 2008 Muscat Canelli – This was my favorite wine that we tried all day! I know I’m kinda girly, but I just couldn’t stop thinking how this would be perfect for a knitting night. A light-sparkling wine that’s floral and fruity but not very sweet. I cannot wait to share this, but I’m a little nervous about ordering it since it was described as, “Not if it will blow… but when.” Thankfully fall is moving in and bringing with some cooler temps. (Ohh, I just learned they don’t ship to MN… sad )
- 2008 Montepulciano – Aw, it’s hard to give a review when I just learned that people in North Dakota (of all places!) can enjoy such luxuries when I can’t…
- 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – I really did enjoy the Montepulciano and the Cabernet. Both of these wines were they were two smooth, classic red wines that could easily be enjoyed with a nice dinner or alone on an evening in.
- Afterglow – This was their dessert wine.
Again, this is a fairly young vineyard, so I am excited to see what they produce in the future. And also hoping that they begin to ship to MN in the future too!
All in all, this was a great way to spend the afternoon. It was a beautiful drive in the Arizona countryside, a few treacherous “dips”, hairpin turns, and highways without shoulders, but nothing that didn’t add a little adventure to an already pleasant afternoon.