At the Arizona Southeast Wine Festival in mid-April at the Kief Joshua Vineyards, it was my pleasure to meet a long-time Facebook friend, well, face-to-face. Imagine my joy when my new ‘old’ friend JD Marshall, gifted me with a bottle of Stetson Winery Hop In The Cab Darlin’—a 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
According to the Stetson Winery website, it was a beautiful spring evening when Don and Jo Stetson were sitting with friends on their patio, enjoying the sunset and sipping on a glass of wine, when their vision was born. Someone said: “Can you picture this valley planted in grapes with all of us on the veranda of a tasting room enjoying a sunset like this one?” The next day they were digging for a soil sample to send for testing to assess how well wine grapes might grow there— the sample showed the soil to be ideal for cultivating a vineyard, and their dream of a winery and event center took flight on 11.11.2012.
Today, the Stetson Winery and Event Center is located 15 miles north of Kingman, AZ, and just a few minutes from historic Route 66—the only winery and event center in northwestern Arizona.
After a long day of standing on my feet pouring Pillsbury Wines with owner Sam Pillsbury for nearly 1,500 people at the wine festival, I retreated to what I recalled as a ruggedly charming but run-down Stage Stop Inn in Patagonia. The 30-minute drive was actually relaxing, as I maneuvered the amazingly beautiful sun-kissed hills and valleys along Route 82W, with that bottle of wine from the north in my thoughts. You see, on a day of pouring wines, most of us don’t drink wine at all, so I looked forward to uncorking this sexy looking bottle of Hop In The Cab.
I was thrilled to discover that the Stage Stop Inn hotel is now under new ownership and undergoing renovations—and I was the first patron to enjoy a newly refurbished room, just off the handsome courtyard with pool. The room was decked out with stunning new floor tiles, spotless everything, even brand-spanking-new sliding glass entry doors—double pane, of course.
Before settling in, I took a short walk to the Wild Horse Restaurant—about 100 paces from the hotel’s entrance, where I ordered my first good meal of the day. At this spotless and friendly restaurant, I was hoping for comfort food to soothe my tired and hungry soul. I chose the grilled beef tenderloin medallions. Well worth the $15 and 20-minute wait to get my order to-go.
Back in the room, before digging into the fork-tender beef topped with a very light and tasty rich mushroom sauce, I popped the Hop In The Cab Darlin’ cork to enjoy as I dined. The garlic mashed red potatoes and the seasoned cauliflower and peppers were both fresh and savory. My small house salad featured fresh dark green veggies and mushrooms. The Cab was a delightful accompaniment to every last bite.
Made with Napa grapes and master-crafted by award-winning Arizona vintner, Eric Glomski, this Cabernet Sauvignon is classic—complex, lots of body, and well-balanced, with a slight hint of chocolate on the finish. The label suggests: “Just like that beautiful old pick-up truck that always turns your head.”
I confess, I was much too tired to even enjoy a second glass—it was early to bed with an early return to the second day of pouring wines at the festival in Sonoita. However, I’m happy to report that the Cab held up to further enjoyment once I returned to Willcox late the following evening.
I can’t wait to savor more of the wines made from the grapes grown in the Kingman valley by the Stetson Winery. Stay tuned for a follow-up, sometime after Don and Jo bottle their first harvest.
I am delighted to have re-discovered the renewed Stage Stop Inn in Patagonia as a choice place to stay next time I head to the Sonoita/Elgin region for some more wining. And that happens a lot.
Also hoping to share many more thoughts on other Arizona wine discoveries with my ol’ Facebook buddy JD. Thanks, man!