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Sonoita / Elgin Wineries

May 25, 2009

Hi Food Folks!

On Saturday, my sweetie, one of her girlfriends & I headed out for wine tasting in Sonoita & Elgin. The unfortunate thing is that I ended up being the driver, so I didn’t really get to taste a lot of wine. Even so, the trip was a whole lot of fun, and I found out that there are some high-quality wines being produced right here in our own backyard. All of the tasting rooms had a charge of some sort ($4-$7), but if you bring your own glass most places knock $2-$3 off of that.

The trip down there probably took an hour or so. The first winery we hit was Callaghan. They were tasting eight wines (dang!), and the tasting was $7.00 (which included a 21oz souvenir glass). It was the most expensive of all the tasting rooms we hit, but the wines were worth it. I did taste all of these wines, which was when we knew that we were defnintely going to need a designated driver. The Buena Suerte was a standout – a Cab/Petit Verdot/Merlot blend, it was a little earthy, not overpowering, but with a long finish. Oh, if aesthetics in a tasting room are your thing, you won’t get any here. It’s big, with stacks and stacks and stacks of white boxes. That’s pretty much it.

From there, we headed about 1/4 mile down the road to Canelo Hills. The winemakers were out of town, but their pinch-hitters were very friendly and knowledgeable. Since I didn’t really get to taste anything here, I’ll have to rely on second-hand reviews. The Sangiovese was well received, as was the Nebbiolo Rose. The second one surprised me, because my honey isn’t much of a rose fan. It had a little bit of oak to it, which was probably the clincher.

Next was Kief-Joshua. This was by far the swankiest of the tasting rooms we encountered, but there was a little too much other stuff going on there for my taste (jewelry, powdered dips, books, and other stuff for sale there). The wines were good, and we met up with a foursome that ended up being our traveling companions for the rest of the trip.

From here, it was off to the Village of Elgin winery. This place was a bit of a mess – they had about 40 wines to sample, and not a lot of guidance besides a single sided sheet with one-line descriptions of all of them to go by. All of the wines my companions tried were cloyingly sweet, even the ones they described as dry. There was also an odor of cigarette smoke in there, which seemed to be strongest by the A/C unit. I don’t know if there was someone outside of it smoking or if they really needed to change the filter, but it was pretty offputting. The good news is that with our own glasses it was only $1.00 for four tastes.

By this time, my steadfast compatriots were pretty blitzed. I really began to realize that when they began singing “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” at the top of their lungs in the car. I appreciated their enthusiasm for my willingness to drive, but that was more than I expected!

Then it was down the road a mile or two to Sonoita Vineyards. They also leaned pretty heavily on sweet wines, although their MeCaSah blend was pretty good.

Finally, we headed back the way we came and went to Wilhelm Family Vineyards for our last stop. Winemaker Karyl was extremely friendly and willing to share her knowledge and thoughts on winemakining. Having a very friendly weimareiner wandering around was a big hit as well. Our favorite wine there was the Kevin’s Choice. This mostly tempranillo blend was lush with black fruit and a little pepperiness.

That was the end of our wine tasting tour, but we went to The Steak Out at the 82/83 junction before going home. That’ll be another posting, though, ’cause this one has gone on way too long!

Happy wining!

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