Sonoita, 50 miles south of Tucson. is a a great day trip from Tucson. Make sure to enjoy the incredible vistas with wide open spaces and mountains in the distance. It is a upcoming wine growing region with several wineries and tasting rooms. Our tops finds include:
Vineyard Cafe: Open for breakfast and lunch, this is a good spot to eat before venturing out to the tasting rooms. The food is good and the staff friendly and very helpful in helping to plan your route. They have a new vineyard and will eventually start tastings at the restaurant.
The Cafe: Locals recommend this local cafe known for its great burgers. 3280 Hwy. 82 in Sonoita.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks: 3248 Hwy 82 Near the Vineyard Cafe is the winery and tasting room for this Sonoita winery that originally started near Wilcox in 1995. I enjoyed tasting the Aguileon, a blend of Tempranillo, Granache and Graciano.
Arizona Hops & Vines: 3450 Hwy 82. This is a funky tasting room featuring both beer and wine. They also host a series of almost monthly events. I enjoyed tasting their Zinfidelity made of 100% Arizona Zinfandel. They do feature a Verena white wine blend but tend to focus on more reds including the Zin, a Sangiovese Rose, a Nebbiolo and Montepulciano blend and a blend of Petit Verdot, Syrah, Graciano and Tempranillo.
Flying Leap Vineyards, 342 Elgin Rd.: This is the Elgin Estate Vineyard Winery & Tasting Room. They also have a tasting room that I have been to in Wilcox AZ, as well as others in Bisbee, Tubac and in Tucson at St. Philip’s Plaza. They also have three fine art galleries. They feature a large selection of red wines including Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Grenache, Mourvedre, Graciano, Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Syrah and red blends. They also produce white, roses and a dessert wine. The Graciano was very good.
Sonoita Vineyards, 290 Elgin-Canelo Rd.: This is the oldest of the wineries in the area. They feature dry whites, a dry rose, sweet dessert and sparkling wines plus dry reds including a pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, syrah/shiraz and a petit sirah.
Lightning Ridge Cellars, 2368 Hwy 83, Elgin, just south of Sonoita: They produce a number of reds including an estate cabernet, a petit verdot, a Montepulciano, a Zinfandel and a Aglianico. I really enjoyed their excellent, medium-bodied Montepulciano.
Kief-Joshua Vineyards at 370 Elgin Road. They produce Rieslings, Chardonnays, Zins, Tempranillos and a blend of Petit Sirah and Barbera. On Saturdays during the summer they have music and tastings on the patio.
Callaghan Vineyards, 336 Elgin Road: Since 1990, they produce a selection of whites, reds and dessert wines.
Other recommended wineries to try include:
Rune Wines: The Vineyard Cafe in Sonoita recommends this new winery that is in the process of opening a new tasting room. 3969 Highway 82, Sonoita.