Monday, February 11, 2013

Flying Leap Vineyards, Elgin, Arizona

Upon visiting the Elgin area of Arizona, three wineries are side by side by side.  This triplet consists of Kief-Joshua Vineyard, Flying Leap Vineyards, and Callaghan Vineyards.  We visited all three in the same trip, however, this particular post is about Flying Leap.  Please see our other posts for information about the other two wineries.

Flying Leap Vineyards was founded very recently in 2010.  The first grapes were planted in 2011.  Here, in 2013, we were tasting their wines.  The only word I could find to describe the tasting room and outside scenery would be "rustic."  The outside contained empty bottles turned upside down and buried in the ground.  Eric found the bottles cool and charming, I didn't really understand them.  It didn't really seem like decoration to me. (As a side note, we did a mini-poll in the tasting room and the men loved the bottle decor, the women all agreed that it was strange.)  The room itself consisted of a small tasting bar to one side of a room filled with barrels.  There wasn't any seating or any knick-knacks for purchase.  The purpose of this tasting room was only to taste wine.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sonoita Vineyards, Sonoita

On our quest to research local wines, my husband and I set out on a personal wine tour of Sonoita.  We find a map of all of the wineries in the Sonoita region and randomly picked one.  We chose to take Highway 83 from the south to get to the wineries.  The drive itself was absolutely beautiful, however, the road left a little to be desired.  If we had realized the poor shape that the road was in, we would have chosen to drive the SUV.

Originally, our plan was to visit Lightning Ridge Cellars first.  However, we were sidetracked by a sign pointing us to turn right instead of left.  We followed the sign and found Sonoita Vineyards.  (As a side note, we heard really nice things about Lightning Ridge Cellars and will visit them on another trip.)

The tasting room is set back quite a ways from the road.  The road itself was a curvy dirt road (again, wrong choice of vehicle!).   When we made it to the tasting room, there were four dogs lazing around the grounds.  The tasting room itself is a medium-sized with a few retail related items and a tasting counter along one side.  The back of the tasting room is open, allowing us to see some of the tanks for the wine.

We tried seven different wines.  We purchased the glasses from the winery, so the wine tasting cost $8.  The winery gives a discount, if you bring a glass from another Southern Arizona winery.  The wines were absolutely wonderful.  Two tasting paths exist at the winery, however, they both start with a sample of the Cochise County Colombard and the Sonora Rossa.  The first wine consisted of a nice white wine with a great finish.  The latter wine was an interesting Rose wine.  The Rose was a mix of 50% of the Colombard and then a 50% mix of Syrah and Malbec.  The result was a Rose which wasn't too sweet or cloying.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

And So It Begins.... Hoppin' Grapes Wine and Beer Tasting Bar, Sierra Vista

While we love talking about wine and visiting wineries, our major purpose behind this blog is to create a window into our Wine and Beer Tasting Shop, Hoppin' Grapes opening in Sierra Vista, Arizona.  For a long time, Hoppin' Grapes (or if not this name specifically, the idea of it), remained a nebulous sort of idea that floated above our heads.  Sort of a "Wouldn't it be great if" conversation that we talked about for a few years.  Through some random life events, we have now found ourselves in the position to actually open up our shop.  At this point, we have our name, logo, some contacts in the wine industry, and personal know-how and courage (aka chutzpah).

Because we know that we need help on the business end, we went to the Small Business Administration here  in Sierra Vista, AZ.   We expected a nice discussion and some pointers on what to do and where to go.  We received so much more.  The SBA is a government organization that actually seems to work.  I know, it sounds crazy, but hear me out...

We went in for our scheduled appointment.  We were a little early, because we are notoriously early.  Our SBA counselor took us early and spent almost two hours discussing our idea and the next steps that we needed to take.  He was clearly very knowledgeable about business and seemed excited about our idea.  It was such a fantastic meeting.  He was able to clarify our questions and point out items that we should have questions about (but didn't know enough to form these questions).  We were then given "homework" to do and a new meeting was scheduled.

After meeting with the SBA, we realized that our dream was actually going to come to fruition.  This is a true and wonderful adventure that we started.  We hope that you will follow us throughout the journey!

What would you like to see us carry on our shelves at Hoppin' Grapes Wine and Beer Tasting Bar in Sierra Vista, Arizona?  Let us know by posting comments below! -Hoppin' Grapes

Monday, February 4, 2013

ST Clair Winery Review - New Mexico

After a long drive across the US, it was time to settle down for a day in one place.  We chose Deming, New Mexico since it only left a few hundred miles on our trip.

On our way to check in at the hotel in Deming, NM, we saw a sign advertising St. Clair Winery.  Who doesn't love a winery?  We sure do.  We knew right then we were leaving NM a little later the next day than anticipated.  With the St. Clair Winery only 3 miles from I-10, why not make the small detour and check it out?

During the short drive to St. Clair Winery, it is easy to think you might be on the wrong road.  The area is mostly desert and open.  Down the road a little further and you will find the oasis that is St. Clair Winery.

Situated at the end of a small road lined with trees and bushes we found parking for the St. Clair Winery.  Although the area is mainly warehousing for the wines they produce, the "visitor center" with retail space and tasting bar make you forget about all of the mechanical processes taking place in the warehouse.  Once you enter, you are transported mentally to a place where you feel like you are in your own personal wine cellar and bar.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Coronado Vineyards Review - Arizona

My husband, Eric, and I are on our cross country trip from North Carolina all the way to Arizona.  We have two vehicles, two CBs (still not sure what my handle is!), and a fat beagle.  We have encountered a freak snowstorm, dealt with a cabin fevered dog, and stayed unintentionally in some pretty shady areas.  To add insult to injury, three seconds after we entered Arizona, I was pulled over.  Apparently I was following too closely?  Although, it was my husband in front of me and he felt I was fine.  I think the officer just wanted to pull over a sports car with a CB antennae and Virginia plates.

The good news?  The officer was perfectly pleasant. The bad news? I still got pulled over three seconds into Arizona! As such, when I saw the billboard advertising the winery in Willcox, Arizona.  I radioed my husband.  The following conversation ensued:

Me: I see a billboard for wine.
Husband: Do you want to stop for a tasting?
Me: Wine!
Husband: So, that's a yes?
Me: So, very thirsty.  Need wine.
Husband:  Ok, we will stop.
Me:  Wine.  Tally-Ho!  (For some reason, I had decided around St. Louis that Tally-ho was the appropriate response and answer into a CB.)

The vineyard is located off Interstate 10 at Exit 344.  It is set back from the road and you have to drive over a bumpy, dirty lane to get to the actual vineyard.  I was mildly apprehensive, but we made it that far and I was determined to have a tasting.  We gave the dog a bone (haha! Unintentional hilarity! We really gave the dog a bone! Knick-knack paddywack!) and went inside.  The dog had plenty of water, it was only about 50 degrees and the windows were rolled down.  Don't worry.  She was fine.