The fledgling Arizona wine industry has been centered around the tiny, quaint villages of Elgin and Sonoita, the location of Arizona's first "modern" winery, Sonoita Vineyards. (The Spanish missionaries produced wine in Arizona hundreds of years ago.) Following successful experiments, founder and owner, Dr. Gordon Dutt, planted the state's first commercial vineyard in 1979. The winery offers a variety of inexpensive and premium wines for tasting. The best premium wines are bold reds, typical of this area.
Each year, Sonoita Vineyards features three events, celebrating its harvest with Augustfest. The festival features great food and wine, live country and western music, plus activities in a beautiful rural setting. The event is generally scheduled the first weekend of August, this year, August 4-5, 2007.
Most visitors will enjoy the wine tasting and the lunches offered by two local restaurants, Cafe Sonoita and the Steakout. However there are other unusual activities including the Tractor Drawn Vineyard Tour (photo left, tractor and wagon parked in front of the tasting room) which includes a narration about grape cultivation Southern Arizona as well as tasting of the various wine grapes right from the vines. The adventurous may try their hand at Grape Stomping. Festival guests are invited to jump into a barrel of grapes for creative grape crushing with their bare feet.
Lunches may be purchased on-site (cash only) and include a coupon for a complimentary glass of wine. The most popular lunch is the generous top sirloin steak offered by the Steakout and charcoal grilled while you wait. Also included are spicy cowboy beans and tortillas. The grassy knoll (photo, right) offers a nice spot to eat your lunch and drink wine. You need to claim a tree for shade as the August sun can be quite warm.
Meanwhile wine tasting is available all day in the tasting room with a variety of premium and table wines being offered. The event admission fee includes the tasting and a souvenir glass. All current vintages are available for purchase as well as some of the older (library) wines. We strongly recommend their Cabernet Sauvignon which was the highlight of last year's festival.
For more information, visit the Sonoita Vineyards website. The vineyards is located three miles south of Elgin on the Elgin-Canelo Road. Take Upper Elgin Roadsouth off of Arizona-82 a few miles east of Sonoita, then bear left at village of Elgin. Tasting is offered daily.
More on Arizona Wine Country. When in wine country, we always recommend a visit to tiny but popular Callaghan Vineyards, on the Elgin Road a few miles west of Elgin village. Their modest tasting room, open Friday through Sunday, is not indicative of their superb wines. In fact, Callaghan wines are considered among the finest in the United States by such authorities as Le Monde and the Wine Advocate. Their wines have been presented at White House state dinners on two occasions. The Callaghan family maintains a vineyard of roughly 17 acres with resulting vintages in the hundreds of barrels. Their trademark offering each year is their superb Buena Suerte Cuvee, a blend of bold red wines. For more information, visit the
Callaghan Vineyards website.
There are three other wineries in the area. Each offers tasting Friday to Sunday.
Arizona Summer Harvest Festivals
Apple Annie's Peach Mania Festival