Right around the end of July is when wineries in the northern hemisphere roll up their sleeves, wake up before the sun rises and work til the sunsets. It’s harvest time when the 2-3 month process of picking the grapes when they are just right so they can be turned into wine. Some celebrate the harvest at the end in October or November with a festival for employees and friends but Elgin’s Sonoita Vineyards starts the harvest with their annual Harvestfest.
This years Harvestfest will take place on Saturday July 29th at 10 a.m. Throughout the day their will be winery tours given by the winemaker, food and wine pairings, vineyard tours in a wagon and a good ol grape stomp at 1;00 p.m. which you must sign up for when you arrive.
No reservations are required but tickets do need to be purchased. 250 General Admission tickets are available on-line for $25 and $30 at the door. GA ticket holders get to enjoy the above events and get a souvenir glass and for the first 100 people a souvenir giveaway.
Lunch can be purchased on-site from local restaurants The Steak Out and The Daily Bread Bistro along with wines by the glass.
50 VIP tickets are available for $85 per person and in addition to all of the above will enjoy a climate controlled room with a balcony, private bar, after hours party from 4-6 p.m., a lunch voucher and more.
Mark your calendars for the 17th Annual St. Martin’s Sonoita AVA New Release Festival with other Sonoita wineries on Nov. 11th Tentatively scheduled for April 7th , 2018 is the 40th Annual Blessing of Sonoita Vineyards.
Take Hwy 83 south from I-10. Sonoita Vineyards is located 3 miles south of Elgin at 290 Elgin-Canelo Road, Elgin, AZ 85611 520-455-5893
The Arizona wine industry continues to gain respect and popularity by showcasing wines from the unique terroir the Arizona desert has to offer. There is no better way to experience wines from a particular region or AVA (American Viticulture Area) than going right to the region to taste the wine and feel the soil which influence the way the grapes are grown and wines taste. The weekend of April 22nd & 23rd is the weekend that wine drinkers will gather in Elgin to celebrate the 6th Annual Southeast Arizona Wine Growers Festival at Kief-Joshua Vineyards.
The 2 day event will be a great opportunity for festival goers to not only taste the wines from the region but to also learn about what makes Southeast Arizona wines unique from other regions of Arizona, U.S.A and the world. The opportunity to spend the weekend in Arizona wine country among the vineyards and with wine growers and wine makers can make for a lifetime of memories.
Over 15 acclaimed wineries will be pouring new releases including Burning Tree, Pillsbury Wine Co., Callaghan Vineyards and Arizona Stronghold as the AVA celebrates its 33rd anniversary as Arizona’s first and only AVA and one of the 1st wine regions in the country to be given AVA status.
The exciting Southeast Arizona (AVA) was named one of the 10 Best Wine Trails in the United States by USA Today.
“We are once again bringing together wine makers from all across Arizona. This year we want to celebrate that on October 26, 1984 the Sonoita/Elgin Wine Growing Region was granted AVA status, making it one of oldest federal government granted viticulture areas in the United States.” – Kief Manning, Winemaker, Kief-Joshua Vineyards
When you’re not sipping on wine or speaking with wine makers, festival goers will be able to taste food from food vendors while listening to live music. The Chili Appreciation Society (CASI) will also be holding a regional two-day professional cook off with attendees casting their vote in the People’s Choice Competition with proceeds to benefit Rotary International.
Having sold Arizona wine as a retailer or as a wholesaler of the last 18 years it’s been good to see the industry come all this way from a gimmicky tourist souvenir to a world-class, well-respected industry where there is a passion and camaraderie. With that Governor Jan Brewer proclaimed Nov. 11th – 18th Arizona Wine Week and the Arizona Winegrowers Assoc. www.arizonawine.org held it’s 4th annual Festival at The Farm on Sat. the 17th.
Preceded by the evening before with a “Celebration of Arizona Wine Growers” event which was an opportunity for 150 guests to mix and mingle with wine makers from across Arizona. Guests had the opportunity to sample appetizers prepared using local produce by Quiessence executive chef Greg LaPrad and his team, that included Nantucket Scallop Crudo paired with 2011 Arizona Stronghold’s Tazi white blend, Chicken Liver Pate topped with Crisp Sage with 2011 Page Springs Cellars La Flor Rose and gnocchi tossed with Rainbow Valley Farmers cheese, wild mushrooms and Rosemary Fennel Sausage with Arizona Stronghold’s “Nachise” Red wine. Assorted deserts that included Lavender Marshmallows and were paired with Carlson Creek’s “Sweet Adeline” Riesling. All the wines paired well with the food presented and tasted good when tasted by themselves. The wines served on this beautiful night were winners from the 2012 Arizona Grower’s Cup and Winemakers Medal Competitions of which all the award winners were announced later in the evening by host Richard Ruelas of the Arizona Republic and poured during the Saturday festival.
On Saturday we returned for a gorgeous afternoon for tasting wines from more than 30 of the states 63 licensed and bonded wineries representing all the states growing regions including the Verde Valley up north, Sonoita and Elgin to the south and Willcox in southeastern Arizona. “Whether they are a novice or an aficionado, this is a can’t miss event for wine lovers to meet the folks behind the rising Arizona wine movement,” said Peggy Fiandaca, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association. The festival also helped celebrate Arizona’s 100 years of statehood as it is a sanctioned Centennial event.
In addition to tasting some new wines from Sand-Reckoner Vineyards and 1st release from Saeculum Cellars amongst others I had the chance to speak with several people to see what has changed in the local wine industry since we last met a year ago. Speaking with the ladies from Coronado Vineyards they were very excited about the custom crush facility now opened in Willcox that will help many others looking to produce wine without the investment of equipment and a winery. We’re also seeing the diversity of wines being made including that of ports and bigger California style wines. The respect, critical acclaim and competitiveness with other world-class wines continues to grow with every vintage as does more local vineyards coming on-line to meet the growing demand not only in Arizona but across the country and beyond.
Highlights from my tastings included…. 2011 Saeculum Cellars Sauvignon Blanc– Made by Arizona assistant winemaker Bob he sources his grapes currently for all 3 wines, also Syrah & Sangiovese, from central coast vineyards in California. Starting with 2012 vintage all wines will be made with grapes from the Rolling View Vineyard in Willcox. This soft and crisp S.B. has nice balance of fruit and acidity and makes for very pleasant drinking wine. This was his 1st release of his wines and having won a few awards on Friday night, he has a great future in front of him. www.saeculumcellars.com
2011 Sierra Bonita Vineyards Rose is a blend of 60% Grenache, 38% Syrah and 2% Tannat which make for a lively and fuller bodied rose. All estate grown on their 11 acres of vineyards, 3 generations of the Smith family work at all aspects of from the vineyards to delivering the wine. All under the guidance of Gerald and Jane Smith. www.sierrabonitavineyards.com
2009 Coronado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon– This higher elevation Cab is medium to full-bodied with good fruit and lingering tannins. With a smooth oak mouth feel, makes a very versatile food wine going well with beef to chocolate.www.coronadovineyards.com
2010 Sand-Reckoner vineyards 5– This is one of 3 new wines tasted from Sand-Reckoner and is a Sangiovese based blend using the Brunello clone of Sangiovese Grasso. Combined with 18% Syrah and aged for 15 months in a 500 liter French oak puncheon this wine has good character and complexity along with nice fruit structure. Only 55 cases were made of this wine. Their “11” Zinfandel is a delicious fortified port style wine great for sipping by the fire and would go well with dark chocolate and blue cheese. www.sand-reckoner.com
It was also good to see the ‘veteran’ winemakers of Kent Callaghan, Eric Glomski and others who have paved the way for years helping to get the Arizona wine industry on the map. Here is to raising a glass to the Arizona wine industry and looking forward to what the near and long-term future brings us. Cheers!