Visitors to southeast Arizona can count on us for two things: plentiful sunshine and really, really good authentic Mexican food. It may come as a surprise, then, that we can also boast being home to several wineries that produce award-winning wines. Arizona’s only official American Viticulture Area is located about an hour south and east of Tucson in what would otherwise be strictly a ranch town. The Sonoita/Elgin area is home to ten tasting rooms–some of which, unfortunately, offer visitors a better tasting experience than others. As a frequent visitor to Sonoita’s tasting rooms, I’m here today to help steer you towards the Sonoita wineries that I’ve found to be the most consistent in both quality of wines and friendliness of tasting room attendants. These wineries, I believe, represent the best wineries in Sonoita.
Callaghan Vineyards – 336 Elgin Road, Elgin, Arizona
No tasting trip along Sonoita’s wine trail would be complete without a stop at Callaghan Vineyards. The first time I visited the region (in 2011) one thing was made clear: Kent Callaghan’s colleagues credit him with establishing Sonoita as a wine destination. Since his vineyard was first planted in 1990, Callaghan’s wines have gone on to earn accolades on both a state and national level. So notable are his wines, in fact, that they’ve been poured at three separate White House dinners.
What you need to know: The tasting room is open from 11-4 Thursday through Sunday and tends to be quite crowded. During our most recent visit, a tasting was priced at $10 (or $5 if you bring your own glass) and included five pours.
Tasting room tidbit: Visitors are encouraged to add a pin to a map on the tasting room wall to represent his or her hometown. If indeed all of the pinners have been honest, Callaghan’s guests have traveled far and wide to visit his tasting room; there’s even a pin on Antarctica! I’m not sure that one passes the tipsy test, but it’s a fun aspect nonetheless.