Southern Arizona Winery Road Trip-July 2020

Longing to be in wine country, we planned a trip to a new area we haven’t been to, Bordeaux France.  So very excited to return to France and take in the countryside and enjoy the wines in that region.   Well, COVID had a different plan for us.  After cancelling our plans to France, we still wanted to get out of the house. We asked our neighbors if they would like to do a road trip.  They agreed to the road trip adventure. In or around 2008 we thought it might be awesome to purchase land down in Elgin Arizona, an up and coming and surprisingly new wine region. Unable to pull the trigger, we decided to wait.  Well fast forward 12 years, ugh, we should have bought the land. Now home to more than 15 wineries, the area is booming and producing some pretty darn good wine.  We decided to book a bed and breakfast due to the small size of the towns in this area.  I found a fantastic one on Booking.com, Rancho Milagro Bed and Breakfast. What a fantastic find it was. It was fourth of July weekend so we figured things would be busy with all the activities that usually go along on holiday weekends.  We hopped in the car for our three-hour car ride from Phoenix down to Southern Arizona to see how much it has changed, get out of the house and just have fun with friends. Our first stop was going to be in Patagonia for lunch at the Velvet Elvis.  Arriving in Patagonia, the city was empty, COVID had shut down the small cities fourth of July activities, but Velvet Elvis was open for business.  And, the pizza was as good as we remembered. After lunch, we strolled down the main street looking in the few shops that were open.  Jumping back in the car we headed to Sonoita, just a short distance down the road.  The Sonoita region area was designated Arizona’s first American Viticultural Area (AVA) for its similarities to the Indicazione Geografica Tipica region of Italy, known for its “Super Tuscans.” The geographical location, climate and soil characteristics of the Sonoita AVA produce award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and more. Our first winery stop was Dos Cabezas Wineworks.  We were all impressed at how great the wine was, we spent about an hour tasting 6 different varieties. Luckily, we had a designated driver on our trip.  The rain moved in with quite a big downpour while we were inside.  After the rain stopped, we jumped back into the car for our next stop.  Just down the road was Rune Wines, the location was a beautiful piece of land with a tasting room outside facing the mountain range. Unfortunately, we weren’t sold on the wine and it was a bit pricey in our opinion.  It was time to make our way over to the Rancho Milagro Bed and Breakfast.  As the title states Rancho, it was a ranch, with horses, chickens and several working cattle dogs.  Our host/hostess were Eunice and Steve, they owned the property which had three rooms attached to the main house but with separate entrances for each unit.  Steve gave us a tour around the property, showing us the chickens, horses and dogs and also where breakfast is served. The rooms each opened up to a shared courtyard of the home and were equipped with everything one needs to stay. The rooms were large and the beds super comfy. After arriving we brought out all our snacks to the tables in the courtyard and talked about what a fun day it was and proceeded to drink some of the wine we purchased.  Steve asked us if needed anything, if we wanted ribs or steaks or hamburgers to put on the grill, we declined as we had enough to fill our bellies.  While sitting out there, Eunice returned home from working on another ranch and asked if we wanted to go and see the horses.  She was going down to feed them and told us they had a new foal just less than two weeks old.  Of course, us girls jumped at the chance to see the foal, and oh my goodness was she cute and not afraid of people. I have never petted a foal so that was exciting. A short time later, Steve came out and asked if we would mind if they had some family come over for a pre-fourth of July picnic the next day. Certainly, we didn’t mind, we were headed out to explore more wineries and probably wouldn’t be there anyway.  The next morning after a delicious breakfast prepared by Eunice, sitting and enjoying the beautiful morning in the courtyard, making our plans for the day, Steve walked by and asked if we needed anything from town.  He was headed to the big city about an hour away, I think he was referring to Sierra Vista, we declined and he said if we changed our mind just text him, he would be there in about an hour. Eunice also came out shortly after Steve left and asked if we needed anything, she was also headed into town, both went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable. Steve had mentioned he really liked Lightning Ridge Cellars, and that we should add it to our day if we hadn’t.  The brochure we picked up made it look like most wineries would open at 11:00 am so we planned our day accordingly.  Our first stop was going to be Steve’s recommendation, since it was a bit out of the way of our other choices.  We arrived  only to find the hours had changed to 12:00 either for holiday hours or COVID issues.  Ok, that’s fine on to plan B, off to lunch (because we needed to eat again, not really, but oh well).  We planned to have lunch at the Copper Brothel Brewery, and what a good choice we made.  Lunch was delicious and the facility awesome. Themed after a brothel the beers had quite the names; Maggie Mays Bushy Blonde, Madame Pearl de Bier, Midnight Maneater IPA, well you get the picture.  The food and beer were quite good and the restaurant was full of customers, which was nice to see.  After lunch we headed back to Lightning Ridge, and just like Steve said, the winery was fantastic. The owner Ann was so delightful and friendly and produced really great wine.  A definite bucketlist stop winery. Next stop was Sonoita Vineyards, one of the oldest vineyards in the Elgin area, there we sampled 5 different wines, all tasty.  Moving on next to Keif-Joshua Vineyards, we were greeted by a younger gentleman, who I believe was Keif-Joshua, who I think didn’t really want to be there. Didn’t seem very personal and soured our opinion before we even began tasting.  Hearing people talking outside, we heard someone mention the winery had been purchased by five women so maybe that is why he wasn’t thrilled to be there. Anyways, no purchases made there.  Our next stop of the day was Flying Leap Vineyards, we were excited to try the 2019 Habanero Chili infused wine. And interestingly enough it was tasty, we had to buy a bottle.  This is the vineyard that we visited in 2008 but was then named Canelo Hills at the time, this is what got us excited about the wineries in this area.  Our last stop of the day was recommended by Ann at Lightning Ridge and it was Autumn Sage.  Autumn Sage is a beautiful winery owned by Stephen and Nancy Basila. It looks like your driving into a French or Italian villa. With rows of grape vines, beautiful pond which they say they host weddings at.  It was just beautiful and a great setting to sit outside and enjoy their fantastic wine.  A perfect end to our day of wine tasting.  Heading back over to Rancho Milagro to finish up our snacks for dinner, Steve and Eunice’s picnic was in full swing. Lots of well-behaved cousins ranging in age from 2-12 playing and enjoying the holiday weekend, all the while checking what we were doing and sharing our snacks.  We didn’t mind, they were all adorable.  Steve brought out a plate of smoked ribs, beans, macaroni and cheese, and jalapeno poppers and handed it to us and told the rest of us to come fill a plate.  What a very nice gesture, so we followed him into the house and did just that.  Perfect end to the day.  The next morning Eunice prepared another fantastic breakfast before we headed out to return home.  All in all, we were not in France tasting wine, but made lemonade out of lemons and had a fabulous time with friends touring Southern Arizona, one winery at a time.  We highly recommend trying the Southern Arizona wineries if your looking for something to do and definitely put Rancho Milagro on your Bucketlist if you want a fantastic place to stay.  Thank you again Steve and Eunice for your hospitality. 

 

1 thought on “Southern Arizona Winery Road Trip-July 2020”

  1. That was really a nice story about your trip. Sounds like alot of fun and very interesting. I really enjoyed hearing about it. Thanks

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