4 October, 2022, 19:11

Sippin’ your way around Sonoita-Elgin Wine Country (MAP)

An itinerary for lovers of wine

Regardless of whether you’re an oenophile, a Sunday sommelier, or perhaps just looking for a tannin-filled good time, Sonoita-Elgin is sure to accommodate your version of wine tasting.

Imagine this: rolling, grass-covered hills, cooler temps, picturesque Arizona landscapes, and all in all, a perfect bifurcation of cowboys and winos.

Photo courtesy of Autumn Sage Vineyards on Instagram

Photo courtesy of Autumn Sage Vineyards on Instagram

Sonoita has turned into a home away from home for me. We’ve basically got a window to Spain, Italy, and the south of France in our backyard without having to purchase a plane ticket; the perfect blend of good climate, striking views and sunsets, and plenty to do.

I was smitten with Sonoita when I first visited nearly a decade ago. Since then, it’s become a tradition to take a drive down with all of my out-of-town guests and celebrate birthdays and big events there. I even got married and held our reception at some of the wineries there in December 2021. And, when you’re as obsessed with your dog as I am with mine, it’s reassuring to have a place that welcomes pups with arms wide open.

Los Milics Vineyards (Photo by Logan Hildebrand)

Los Milics Vineyards (Photo by Logan Hildebrand)

About once a month, my husband, our dog Spaghetti, and I hop in the car and make the quick jaunt down to our version of paradise. With that said, though these suggestions are not perfect, they were lovingly curated.

I invite you to take a journey down to our beautiful Sonoita-Elgin wine country and have a look for yourself. However, before you go, embark on this virtual tour that’s been conveniently broken down into sections, depending on the type of experience you’re looking for.

Here for the wine

I mean, we’re technically all here for the wine. These wineries offer great varietals for the more experienced palate. Did someone say “pinkies up?”

Callaghan Vineyards

336 Elgin Rd., Elgin, AZ

It should suffice it to say that Callaghan Vineyards has been honored by having its wine served at the White House four times, but it should also be noted that they’re a foundational winery for Sonoita, they’re incredibly dog-friendly, and they have a beautiful property worth checking out.

PRICING: $$

  • $17 a flight: Tasting includes a beautiful Callaghan Vineyards Burgundy-shaped glass and five one-ounce tastings
  • $12 a glass (BYOG)(bring your own glass)

For more information, visit callaghanvineyards.com

Deep Sky Vineyard

124 Elgin Rd., Elgin, AZ

I’m extremely biased as this is where our nuptials took place (10/10 recommend getting married at a winery). Pack a picnic to enjoy on their wraparound patio (they also have plenty of indoor seating) and play a round of bocce ball on their court.

PRICING: $

  • $15 a flight: Tasting includes a logoed glass (stem or stemless), which is yours to keep for five pours
  • $10 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit deepskyvineyard.com

 

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Dos Cabezas WineWorks

3248 AZ-82, Sonoita, AZ

Dos Cabezas WineWorks has been growing grapes and producing wines in southern Arizona since 1995, and baby, it shows. The winery is supplied with distinctive, high-quality fruit from its two estate vineyards: Pronghorn Vineyard in Sonoita and Cimarron Vineyard in the Kansas Settlement. The sparkling Rose is one of my favorite offerings, but don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself.

PRICING: $

  • $15 a flight: Tasting includes souvenir logo glasses
  • $10 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit doscabezas.com

 

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Lightning Ridge Cellars

2368 AZ-83, Elgin, AZ

Though a bit off the beaten path, Lightning Ridge certainly merits a visit the next time you’re in the area. Their estate wines are made from classic Italian varietals based on the family’s heritage. Sample wines such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, Primitivo, Malvasia, and Muscat Canelli.

PRICING: $

  • $12 a flight: Tasting includes a custom-etched wine glass
  • $7 a glass (BYOG from a local winery)

For more information, visit lightningridgecellars.com

 

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Los Milic’s Vineyards

423 Upper Elgin Rd., Elgin, AZ

Nestled at the foothills of the Mustang Mountains, it’s hard to not immediately fall in love with the vision that the Los Milics team has set forth for themselves. Once construction is complete, the Estate vineyard will boast a state-of-the-art winemaking facility, tasting room, and guest lodging. Honestly, even without the stunning property views and tasting spaces, the wine speaks for itself, and it’s saying “you’re going to want to take a bottle or 6 home”.

PRICING: $$

  • $18 a flight: Tasting includes a souvenir crystal glass and four two-ounce portions or $15 for a stemless plastic glass
  • $12 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit losmilicsvineyards.com

Rune Wines

3969 AZ-82, Sonoita, AZ

If I’m being honest, Rune could’ve had its own category. Rune is home to exceptional wines made by James Callahan, great food (its new kitchen is *chef’s kiss*), and breathtaking views.

Side note: Because of their new kitchen, dogs are still allowed at Rune, but can’t be inside the tasting room.

PRICING: $$

  • $18 a flight: Tasting includes a souvenir glass
  • $13 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit runewines.com

 

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Here “for the ‘gram”

You’ll find that many, if not all of the wineries, are picturesque in their own way. The spots listed below don’t require any filters and are known for their parties.

Autumn Sage Vineyards

90 Elgin Rd., Elgin, AZ

The outdoor space at Autumn Sage boasts a classic gazebo and dock overlying a fishing pond which makes the perfect backdrop for any and all photos. Oh, and it’s hard to ignore the majestic mountain ranges in every direction with rolling hills that turn green during monsoon. There are even autumn sage plants sprinkled throughout the property. Truly a ‘grammable vineyard.

PRICING: $$

  • $18 a flight: Tasting with a crystal souvenir glass
  • $15 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit autumnsage.com

AZ Hops & Vines

3450 AZ-82, Sonoita, AZ

The fabulous gals at AZ Hops & Vines know how to have a good time. They have a petting zoo complete with donkeys, geese, and dogs. Many thoughtful touches have been added to the property such as The Wishing Barrel, the Famous Green Door, and quotes from Jack Kerouac and Frida Kahlo painted on the walls.

PRICING: $

  • $10 a flight: Complete tasting course with disposable cups to take outside to enjoy on the patio if you wish

For more information, visit azhopsandvines.com

 

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Charron Vineyards

18585 S. Sonoita Hwy, Vail, AZ

Charron Vineyards is a great way to start or end your wine trip because they’re basically the halfway point between Tucson and Sonoita/Elgin (it’s basically a 25ish-min drive from downtown Tucson) and are usually open an hour or two later than the other wineries. Hang out on their patio and enjoy stunning views of the Santa Rita mountains and their vines.

PRICING: $

  • $16 a flight: Comes with a stemless crystal souvenir glass for six one-ounce pours
  • $10 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit charronvineyards.com

Sonoita Vineyards

290 Elgin Canelo Rd., Elgin, AZ

What do Sonoita Vineyards and Bob Ross’ Joy of Painting have in common? They both debuted in 1983. That’s right, Sonoita Vineyards is the oldest commercial vineyard and winery in Arizona. With all that experience, it’s no wonder they know how to throw some awesome parties such as their Harvest Fest, stargazing parties, new release festivals, Halloween wine, chocolate pairing, and more.

PRICING: $$

  • $20 a flight: Tastings with a souvenir glass
  • $15 a glass (BYOG from any other local Sonoita/Elgin Winery)

For more information, visit sonoitavineyards.com

 

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Here for the new

The wineries listed below are relatively new to the Sonoita-Elgin winery scene. Please give them a warm, Tucson Foodie welcome.

Los Milic’s Vineyards

423 Upper Elgin Rd., Elgin, AZ

In 2014, Pavle and Ita Milic launched their Los Milics wine label, with the help of Kelly and Todd Bostock of Dos Cabezas WineWorks, and mid-last year opened their tasting room to the public. Also, they’ve got major expansion plans with their tasting room, casitas for overnight stays, and a restaurant.

PRICING: $$
$18 a flight: Includes a souvenir crystal glass and four two-ounce portions ($15 for a stemless plastic glass)
$12 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit losmilicsvineyards.com

Salvatore Vineyards

331 Elgin Rd. Elgin, AZ

Salvatore Vineyards and Passion Cellars opened up their tasting room in Sonoita/Elgin in February 2022. They also have locations throughout Southern Arizona including Bisbee, Elgin, Jerome, Scottsdale, Tombstone, and Wilcox. You can give them a taste wherever you go.

For more information, visit passioncellars.com

 

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Sunset Ride Wine

3266 AZ-82, Sonoita, AZ

Sunset Ride Wine opened in March 2022 and is already successfully embedding itself into the wine community. They feature their own horses on their label, too. Be sure to check them out because they’re one of the first stops on your way into Sonoita (coming from Tucson). Bring your pups in, too.

PRICING: $

  • $15 a flight: Includes a souvenir glass
  • $10 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit sunsetride.com

 

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Vino Stache Winery

6 Lone Mesquite Ct., Elgin, AZ

Vino Stache is open by appointment only, but what’s cool is that you get to spend some time with the winemaker herself, Brooke Ide. What’s even cooler is that each year Vino Stache Winery selects a local Arizona-based charity to give back a dollar per bottle sold. Drink good wine and do good.

PRICING: $

  • $20 a flight: Tasting includes six pours

For more information, visit vinostache.com

 

 

Here for the belly rubs

For the most part, all of the wineries in Sonoita-Elgin are dog-friendly. These wineries go the extra mile in ensuring that your four-legged friends feel welcome with branded dog treats, puppy yoga, gourmet dog food, and all the acreage a pup can dream of.

Autumn Sage Vineyards

90 Elgin Rd., Elgin, AZ

Humans and animals alike will appreciate the manicured landscape at Autumn Sage. They even have dog bones available for purchase in the tasting room and the delightful treats were created by Happy Tails Barkery, a local dog-loving business.

PRICING: $$

  • $18 a flight: Includes a crystal souvenir glass
  • $15 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit autumnsage.com

Hannah’s Hill Vineyard

3989 AZ-82, Elgin, AZ

Walking into Hannah’s Hill Vineyard is like walking into an old friend’s house who also happens to make their own wine. They’re a truly family-owned and operated vineyard. Symeron and Opal, the resident white German Shepherds, are the welcoming committee and are there to give you a tour for some belly rubs in return. You’ll also find cute souvenirs for purchase and they’re always collecting donations to the Arizona White German Shepherd Rescue.

PRICING: $

  • $14 a flight: Includes a Hannah’s Hill glass
  • $8 a glass (with a glass from the Sonoita American Viticultural Area)

For more information, visit hannahshill.com

Rancho Rossa Vineyards & Rescued Hearts Cellars

201 Cattle Ranch Ln., Elgin, AZ

Rancho Rossa Vineyards is arguably the most dog-friendly winery in all of Sonoita/Elgin. They have three wine dogs: Big Henry David, Leopold Cassidy, and Little Arthur Jackson. They serve a dog menu on the weekend and they occasionally host puppy yoga.

Plus, if you bring in any of the below items, you’ll get a complimentary $12 tasting:

  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Liquid Clorox
  • Lysol disinfectant cleaner
  • Lysol/Clorox wipes
  • Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • Dishwashing pods
  • Canned green beans (must bring at least five regular size cans)
  • Dryer sheets (must bring at least two boxes)
  • Pumpkin (must bring at least three regular size cans)
  • Paper towels (must bring at least three rolls)
  • Creamy peanut butter (must bring at least three regular size jars)

Important Rule: One complimentary tasting per couple or two per group.

Because they have no operational or admin costs for their non-profit Rescued Hearts Cellars, every penny goes to helping Arizona animal rescues with emergency veterinary bills. Check out their non-profit here.

PRICING: $$

  • $15 for a flight and $18 if you’d like a souvenir glass

For more information, visit ranchorossa.com

Photo courtesy of Rancho Rossa Vineyards on Instagram

Photo courtesy of Rancho Rossa Vineyards on Instagram

AZ Hops & Vines

3450 AZ-82, Sonoita, AZ

If a winery has its own petting zoo, chances are your kids — furry or not — are welcome. They recently hosted “Dog Day” with games, food, drinks, prizes, an auction, and live music to raise money for Passion4Paws. They do recommend keeping your pets leashed because nothing ruins your relaxing wine time like having to chase your pet across three miles of open fields.

PRICING: $

  • $10 Complete tasting course: Includes disposable cups to take outside and enjoy on the patio, if you wish

For more information, visit azhopsandvines.com

 

Twisted Union Wine Company

370 Elgin Rd., Elgin, AZ

Twisted Union offers great wine, views, and seating for your pups to fulfill a great day of wine tasting. Additionally, they’ve got two pet-friendly guest suites you can book so that you can wake up among the vines.

PRICING: $$

  • $18 a flight: Includes a souvenir glass
  • $14 a glass (BYOG)

For more information, visit twistedunionwinecompany.com

 

Here for it all

The wineries listed below feature various alternatives to our fermented grape friend.

Elgin Winery & Distillery

471 Elgin Rd., Elgin, AZ

If you’re looking for award-winning distilled spirits, I encourage you to check out their rum. It was voted “The World’s Best Rum” in 2018 and 2019 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and it was the only American rum to ever win gold at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. If rum isn’t your thing, their Bourbons and Gins are also critically acclaimed.

PRICING: $

  • $15 wine flights: Includes five samples and a souvenir glass
  • $10 a glass (BYOG)
  • $10 spirits flight: Includes four samples and a souvenir glass

For more information, visit elginwd.com

Photo courtesy of Elgin Winery & Distillery on Instagram

Photo courtesy of Elgin Winery & Distillery on Instagram

Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery

342 Elgin Canelo Rd., Elgin, AZ

Flying Leap’s distillery tasting room is definitely worth a visit. Chic with large viewing windows, you can see the stills and watch the production team in action while sampling their spirits. Flying Leap’s distilling emphasis is on grape-based spirits, including vodka, brandy, grappa, and an assortment of delicious infused liqueurs made from eau-de-vie.

PRICING: $$$

  • $24 wine flights: Includes six tastings a souvenir 22-ounce German-made, stemmed wine glass
  • $12 spirits flight: Includes six tastings from their portfolio of distilled spirits

For more information, visit flyingleapvineyards.com

The Meading Room

3470 AZ-82, Sonoita, AZ

I encourage you to not shy away from tasting through a flight of mead; there’s something for everyone. The Space Cowboy happens to be a particular favorite of mine as are the seasonal slushies. The Meading Room also has an electronic vehicle charger outside.

PRICING: $

  • $10 a flight: Includes five samples and a snack (yes, that means you get all that and a bag of chips)

For more information, visit themeadingroom.com

 

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Wilhelm Family Vineyards

21 Mountain Ranch Dr., Elgin, AZ

Wilhelm serves Glühwein and sangria, which I’m absolutely including as an alternative in this guide because it’s so dang good. You’ll find something for everyone at Wilhelm Family Vineyards. If you’re unable to make the drive, you can sample their wines at their Terra Alta Bistro located on Kolb, near Sunrise.

PRICING: $

  • $10 a flight: Includes five samples (one of them can even be a port)

For more information, visit wilhelmvineyards.com

 

Here for the food

A day of day drinking definitely calls for food. If you’re looking for more than the ever-popular charcuterie pairings, these wineries have you covered with sustenance to sop up the wine.

Dos Cabezas Wineworks

3248 AZ-82, Sonoita, AZ

The way a slice of Pronghorn Pizza tastes after a day of wine tasting is a religious experience. Pronghorn Pizza sources all local ingredients and creates literal dough magic. Their Brava happens to be a personal favorite, but I recommend working your way down their menu and trying their revolving seasonal hits.

For more information, visit pronghorn.pizza

 

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Rune Wines

3969 AZ-82, Sonoita, AZ

Rune recently launched its food program. Now you can enjoy excellent Rune wine with excellent Rune food such as sandwiches, small plates, charcuterie, and even ice cream.

For more information, visit runewines.com

 

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Brea’s Bakery + Bistro

201 Cattle Ranch Ln., Elgin, AZ

Brea’s Bakery + Bistro, located at the vineyard, serves up things like charcuterie, local goat cheese, and hummus paired with the delicious homemade crackers at their tasting room. Oh, but there’s more on the menu like freshly baked bread, pies, soups, sandwiches, and even dog-friendly menu items.

For more information, visit breasbakery.com

 

Addie Ibarra, native Tucsonan, is a fierce lover of adventure, travels, and Star Wars. Her love of food and drink takes her to places far, far away.

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