When you hear the term “wine country,” your mind probably conjures up images of rolling, vineyard-covered hills in California’s Napa Valley. It might come as a surprise to you, then, that we have a little treasure trove of wineries right here in Southern Arizona. While the wineries of Sonoita and Elgin may not be as well-known as the giants in California, these are some of the best wineries in the United States. Indeed, they produce distinctive wines, offering locals and visitors alike a one-of-a-kind Arizona tasting experience.
Tasting fees at these wineries range from $7-$23, with discounts given when you arrive with a glass from another local winery. In other words, you’ll want to purchase your glass at the first winery and take it with you to the next tasting room.
Arizona Hops & Vines (best wineries)
Women-owned & operated, Arizona Hops & Vines is "a cheeky little winery run by two crazy awesome sisters (Megan and Shannon), with a ton of help from their friends and their many children." The owners describe Arizona Hops & Vines as "the most unique and unpretentious winery in Sonoita" and they are passionate about creating unique wine.
TASTING FEE: Tastings are $10. Each tasting course has 6 wines with 6 different chips and comes in a muffin tin! For those that love the collectible Hops & Vines wine glasses, you can purchase one for $5 to help you enjoy wine by the glass.
BEST-SELLING WINES:The Fluffer, Mr. Bill, and Sebastian
AVERAGE COST OF A BOTTLE OF WINE: Average cost is $29 a bottle.
FOOD/DINING: You can order cheese plates that come with crackers and chocolate for $10-$15.
WINE CLUB: No, but they do ship!
FAMILY FRIENDLY: Kids are welcome and there is an on-site petting zoo.
PETS: Pets are welcome, although a leash is highly recommended.
IF YOU GO: There are several Instagram-worthy spots on the property, including the bathroom (which has been described as "pretty epic"). They also have a huge heart cage full of love letters and gorgeous green blue doors from India.
Autumn Sage Tasting Room offers a unique tasting experience. Situated next to the vineyard, it has comfortable handicap accessible indoor and outdoor seating. There are picture-perfect mountain ranges in every direction with rolling hills that turn green during monsoon season.
While on the property, you can relax at "a gorgeous park with picnic tables and a pond." The pond has vibrant lily pads in the spring and summer with fish swimming around!
Feel free to take a photo or two beside the winding picket fence road that leads to the tasting room or next to the hand-painted mural on one of the patio spaces.
ADDRESS: 90 Elgin Road, Elgin, Arizona
HOURS: Wednesday-Sunday, 11:00am-5:00pm
TASTING FEE: For $18, you can have a tasting of 5 pours in an Autumn Sage crystal souvenir glass that you can take home with you. There is a discount if you bring your own glass (or one from a neighboring winery).
BEST-SELLING WINES:Sagrantino is a full-bodied, bold red that is quite rarely grown in the US. Albariño is their most popular white and pairs well with light meat, such as fish tacos. Counoise is a lovely red that is often enjoyed by both red and white wine drinkers because it is lighter and fragrant.
FOOD/DINING: Snacks are sold in the tasting room. There is typically a local food truck on-property on Saturdays during music performances (from 1-4pm).
WINE CLUB: Yes.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY: Yes! In fact, the owners’ grandkids can often be spotted running around. There is enough space to spread out and room for all.
PETS: Dogs are allowed on leashes and there are special treats just for the pups, such as handmade bandanas, bones, and doggy “fro-yo.”
GOOD TO KNOW: Autumn Sage is located on the nicknamed “Winery Row,” which is Elgin Road. The road consists of several popular wineries in the Sonoita/Elgin area.
IF YOU GO: Also on-property: Autumn Park and Sage Stage. This outdoor space boasts a classic gazebo and dock overlying a fishing pond - perfect for weddings, anniversaries, festivals, and corporate events!
The winemaker behind Callaghan Vineyards, Kent Callaghan, is highly regarded by his colleagues as a pioneer for the success of wineries in Sonoita/Elgin and his wines certainly showcase why. Callaghan wines have been served at the White House 4 times and, as the second oldest winery in Arizona, has much clout in the area.
Kent Callaghan started the winery with his parents in 1990 and it has grown to include over 25 planted acres and over 40 varieties growing.
Kent and Lisa Callaghan are both Tucson Natives. Kent's family is 3rd generation and Lisa's family is 4th generation Tucsonans.
You’d be remiss not to include it during a wine-tasting adventure in Sonoita.
ADDRESS: 336 Elgin Road, Elgin, Arizona
HOURS: Thursday-Sunday, 11:00am-4:00pm
TASTING FEE: Tastings are $13 with a glass or $10 if you bring a wine glass. There are 18 wines to choose from on the list: two sparkling wines, 4 whites, 1 rose', 10 reds, and one dessert.
BEST-SELLING WINES:Padres Magnum '17, Tannat Magnum '18, and Love Muffin White
AVERAGE COST OF A BOTTLE OF WINE: Average cost is $28 a bottle.
SOLD AT TUCSON STORES: Yes. Find Callaghan Vineyards' wine at: Plaza Liquors, Feast Restaurant, Total Wine, AJ's Fine Foods, Time Market, The Parish, and Tap and Bottle.
Nestled within an unassuming strip mall in Sonoita is the Dos Cabezas tasting room. While the exterior of the building is anything but spectacular, as soon as you walk through the door you are greeted by a surprisingly intimate setting. The centerpiece of the room is undoubtedly the long bar, where you’re just as likely as not to find the winemaker, Todd Bostock, standing behind, pouring his wines for patrons. In fact, most Southern Arizona winemakers do the pouring in their tasting rooms, and they are eager to shoot the breeze with wine enthusiasts who come calling.
Dos Cabezas has been growing grapes and producing wines in Southern Arizona since 1995. 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.
Flying Leap is a committed team of Arizona family farmers, skilled winemakers & artisan distillers, and a team of passionate wine & spirits retail merchants. Flying Leap is also a full-service, direct distributor of its wines and spirits portfolio to on & off-premise wholesale customers. They grow a vast portfolio of French, Spanish and Italian winegrapes at vineyards in southern and southeastern Arizona and then produce a delicious array of ultra-premium wines and distilled spirits from our harvests.
ADDRESS: The Elgin Winery & Tasting Room is located at 342 Elgin Road. In addition, Flying Leap also has tasting rooms in Tucson, Tubac, and Prescott.
TASTING FEE: A wine tasting flight at Flying Leap venues consists of 6 x 1-oz pours of a combination of white, red, and port-style wine samples, as well as a souvenir 22-oz German-made, stemmed wine glass. The tasting line-up changes daily. The standard tasting fee is $22.95, plus tax. If the customer purchases at least one bottle of wine, a $10 rebate is applied to the tasting fee, reducing it to $12.95, plus tax.
GOOD TO KNOW: Flying Leap is also the parent company of Arizona Rub, a family of premium dry rubs and seasonings that add authentic Southwestern flavor to all BBQ foods, including steaks, chops, ribs, roasts, and grilled vegetables. Arizona Rub products are made from the highest quality, premium spices available, and contain no MSG or gluten.
This particular winery definitely evokes an Old World Italian charm. Don’t be deceived by the relatively modest tasting room; there is much more to this place than meets the eye.
The impressive back room, where the winemakers hold various special events throughout the year, is anchored by a massive table and the windowless room houses countless wine barrels. Guests feel as though they’ve truly descended into a wine cellar.
FOOD/DINING: Meats, cheeses + handmade crackers are available to purchase. On most weekends, Brea's Bakery + Bistro food truck is open! The menu changes every week but their signature sandwich, the BLT with housemade bacon, is always available!
WINE CLUB: Yes
PETS: YES!!! They love it when people bring their pets. Rancho Rossa has raised over $85k for animal rescue since they opened.
PHOTO SPOTS: "An awesome flower power mural painted by a local artist and the outside mountain views are to die for."
IF YOU GO: Mimosas and a killer sangria are available by the glass for sweet drinkers.
Rune's first vintage wine was sold in 2013 and the Sonoita tasting room opened its doors in 2015. The Rune tasting experience is like no other. Weather allowing, wine tastings primarily take place outside under a shade canopy where you can enjoy panoramic 360 degree views of the surrounding mountain ranges and high desert grasslands. Rune Wine is the only solar-powered and off-grid tasting room and vineyard in Arizona and the owners strive to run their business sustainably and with minimal impact.
Anna Callahan, Business Manager at Rune Wines, had this to say about what makes the winery special, "Our award winning wine is made with wild yeast - the yeast that naturally occurs on the grapes in the vineyard rather than commercially purchased yeast. So, the wines are a wonderful expression of our unique high desert terroir. Additionally, the wines tell a story, with a unique piece of art on each bottle. The art changes from vintage to vintage and tells a story, just like a graphic novel! Finally, our off-grid solar powered tasting room and vineyard has some of the most spectacular views in Sonoita."
TASTING FEE: A tasting includes 5-6 wines and the cost is $18 with a souvenir glass or $13 if you bring your own glass.
BEST-SELLING WINES:Wild Syrah (flagship red wine and a fan favorite), Viognier (most popular white wine), and Rosé (a favorite - even among people who don’t usually like Rosé)!
AVERAGE COST OF A BOTTLE OF WINE: $20-$55
SOLD AT TUCSON STORES: Yes. Rune's wine is available at a number of restaurants and retailers in Tucson, including the Arizona Wine Collective, Feast, George Wine Shop, Plaza Liquors, Sprouts Farmers Market (select locations), Tap & Bottle, Time Market, and Tucson Hop Shop.
FOOD/DINING: Packaged snacks, as well as local baked goods from the Farmer’s Daughter, are available to purchase. Rune Wines is also in the final stages of launching a food program so they are hoping to offer sandwiches, salads, and cheese plates in Spring 2022!
WINE CLUB: Yes.
PETS: Rune is dog friendly! The expansive outdoor tasting area is perfect for kids and pets to explore and enjoy.
PHOTO SPOTS: Rune is on 26 acres of beautiful desert grasslands with fantastic 360 degree views of the Mustang, Whetstone, Huachuca, and Santa Rita Mountains. The property also includes a vintage Airstream Trailer and the indoor tasting room is a unique repurposed Quonset hut.
IF YOU GO: Stay at one of Rune's two AirBnBs near the Sonoita Crossroads: the Winemaker’s Casita or the Adobe House.
Originally opened in 1983, Sonoita Vineyards is the oldest commercial vineyard and winery in Arizona. Sonoita Vineyards is now 3rd generation and includes over 30 acres of vines. Every bottle of wine is hand bottled, labeled, and capped in small batches at less than 2,000 bottles per vintage.
ADDRESS: 290 Elgin-Canelo Road, Elgin, Arizona
HOURS: Every Day EXCEPT Tuesday, 10:00am-4:00pm
TASTING FEE: $20 per person includes a souvenir glass; $15 per person if you bring in a glass from any other local Sonoita/Elgin winery
BEST-SELLING WINES:Arizona Sunset, Angel Wings, and MeCaSah. Sonoita Vineyards specializes in French Varietals.
AVERAGE COST OF A BOTTLE OF WINE: $20
SOLD AT TUCSON STORES: Yes. Sonoita Vineyards' wines are distributed at all Whole Food stores in the state of Arizona. Also available at: Casa Video, Magee Road Liquors, Maynards Market & Kitchen, Monterey Liquors, and Mt. Lemmon General Store.
The Meading Room offers something completely different from the typical offerings in wine country. With a modern take on an ancient libation, mead has become increasingly popular all over the United States, with The Meading Room being the only meadery in southern Arizona!
This tasting room & farm is a destination with ridiculously spectacular views of rolling hills, grasslands, wildflowers, mountains, antelope, and a lovely little farm in the making. Bring a picnic, lay out on the grass, walk through the lavender, sip some mead, and relax.
TASTING FEE: With an ever-changing list of meads, ciders, and fruit wines, The Meading Room offers a unique beverage tasting experience in the heart of Arizona wine country. $10 flights (choose five from the menu) include a small, pre-packaged snack.
BEST-SELLING WINES:Space Cowboy, Lavender & Pear, and Old No. 9
AVERAGE COST OF A BOTTLE OF WINE: $16 to $26
SOLD AT TUCSON STORES: No. To-go bottles are available, along with mead/cider by the glass and alcoholic slushies!
SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow The Meading Room on Instagram.
FOOD/DINING: The Meading Room offers a few pre-packaged food options featuring local, gluten-free baked goods, deli sandwiches (while supplies last), wild game sausage & jerky, chips, crackers, and honey sticks.
IF YOU GO: Take a photo in the lavender field with the Mustang mountains as the back drop or pose on the sliding ladder in the little library (pictured above).
GOOD TO KNOW: Wilhelm Family Vineyards also operates Terra Alta Bistro inside Ventana Plaza in the heart of the Tucson foothills. This quaint wine bar and bistro has beautiful views of the Catalina Mountains.
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