My maiden wine-tasting trek up the Verde Valley Wine Trail is a reported success.
Guided by the latest edition of Vines & Wines, we were blessed by endearing people, amazing food, decent weather, and of course, good wines. Thanks to everyone for enduring our need to discover and document the best wines to blog about and/or introduce to Tucson. Mostly, I appreciate each tasting room host (grapistas) who entertained endless questioning as we tasted, spit wines, poured them out, and feverishly logged in our notebooks.
We then traveled into Old Town Cottonwood to visit Kevin Grubbs at the Arizona Stronghold tasting room. I applaud him for his knowledgeable and thorough presentation of the amazing Arizona Stronghold portfolio.
Gratitude is likewise extended for the tolerant and exuberant hospitality of J.B. Turner at the Pillsbury Wine Company tasting room—we happened upon the tasting room as he was locking up, but he had a hunch and invited us in. It was an added delight to discover that J.B. may have evolved from California wine majesty—stay tuned as that tale unravels.
Did the phone lines heat up across Jerome on Sunday, warning that the “four Tucson women who are spitting are on their way”–or perhaps the word was spread by those infamous Jerome ghosts? I understand you never know for sure in Jerome.
Thanks to Melanie Sepulveda at the Jerome Winery tasting room for her gracious indulgence as we shared tastings of all the Jerome wines—and mostly for introducing me to a book called Lady Lost: The Story of the Honeymoon Cottage in Jerome Arizona, written by Margaret Graziano, mother of Melanie, and Bitter Creek winemaker John McLoughlin. I learned Graziano still “can out-pick anyone when it comes to harvesting grapes.” I devoured the book on the ride home—watch for the book review in this blog soon.
We agreed that the Jerome wine labels feature old family photos were most fascinating. Melanie’s face lit up, as she lovingly introduced family members each time she presented a new wine.
Melanie’s husband Isaiah then entertained us a couple hundred stairs down the hill, as he introduced the Dribble Creek line-up of wines. Isaiah, we learned, was the jack-of-all-Jerome-trade, most proud to be part of a family that professes a 24/7 work ethic.
As we ending our tastings at the Cadeucus tasting room, there was actually a person trying to book his “flight” on the phone, while the tasting room hostess patiently explained that it was not a flight that would transport him anywhere…I kid you not.
Thanks to Isaiah’s generous guidance to Jerome’s new Quince Café—it provided the perfect Sante Fe-spiced fare for an overcast day filled with wine tasting. A couple of enthralling hours was enjoyed exploring the many art studio and local businesses, just to walk as many stairs as possible to work off the meal.
Back in the hotel room after a long two days of reviewing wines, we at last enjoyed our first real glass of wine of the weekend; no spitting required.
We did not make it to each Verde Valley wineries due to time constraints; but there’s always ‘next time’—and I definitely intend to make that sooner than later.
For me, this was a record spitting and dumping wine tour—I exhausted my palate both days; yet I feel gratified to have tasted and discovered so many of northern Arizona’s best wines. We enjoyed fine dining at The Tavern Grille in Cottonwood, as well as breakfast (twice) at the Crema Cafe. Last, but not least, thanks for the hospitality at the Little Daisy Motel in Cottonwood.
My traveling companions and I also tested Wine Wipes, the ‘revolutionary’ way to prevent purple tasting teeth while wine tasting. A full report to come.
Stay tuned for more discoveries from this experience…
Come meet me at the Tucson Festival of Books TucsonCitizen.Com booth—I’ll be there about 10am both days, March 12 and 13.