Local First Arizona returns with another Explore Arizona trip, this time to the high desert grasslands of Sonoita and Patagonia on May 15-17, 2015. The region, about a 45-minute drive southeast from Tucson, is dotted by many of Arizona's best wineries, plus an array of arts and culture destinations and some fine dining restaurants.
“There is no need to head to California to taste award-winning wines and restaurants when we have so many to choose from right here in our home state,” said Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning, who will manage and lead the Explore Arizona trip. “If you haven't had the chance to truly experience Arizona wines or witness the geography of southern Arizona's high desert, you will be amazed by both the quality and the beauty.”
Wine tasting will be a major component of the trip with visits to both Callaghan Vineyards and Dos Cabezas WineWorks. The region's clay soil has been compared to that of Burgundy, one of France's main wine producing regions famous for its Pinot noir and Chardonnay wines. Callaghan Vineyards and Dos Cabezas Wineworks have managed to stand up to this comparison, as Callaghan Vineyards has won Double Golds at the Jefferson Cup and holds a 94 rating from Wine Advocate for their 1993 Chardonnay. Dos Cabezas WineWorks has made the San Francisco Chronicle's list of top 100 wines, and Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas Wineworks were also included in the Chronicle's list of 10 rising-star vitners as part of their “Winemakers to Watch in 2015” article. Both wineries have also had their wines served in the White House to Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
The trip will also feature meals at some highly rated local restaurants. On the first night, guests will enjoy dinner with Chef Adam Puckle of The Cafe, who will prepare green chile stuffed chicken with pico de gallo and seasonal garden vegetables, or a Greek-style Portobello mushroom stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and feta. On the second night, guests will enjoy a catered dinner at Dos Cabezas Wineworks courtesy of Chef Rod Kass of Cafe Roka.
Attendees will stay at the Sonoita Inn, a western country lodge that captures the local history and flavor. The Sonoita Inn features spacious rooms which provide scenic views of the surrounding mountains and grasslands. There will also be time for attendees to plan their own activities, such as perusing the shops and galleries in Patagonia or hiking in the nearby mountains.
"An added bonus for joining us on this trip is that due to the elevation, the Sonoita/Patagonia region is about 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix," said Lanning. "This will feel great as temperatures really start to rise in May."
Registration is available for one- and two-night packages. For the two-night package, registration includes a hotel room for Friday and Saturday nights, four meals, and two wine tastings. A one-person package costs $279.00 (plus fees) and a two-person package costs $399.00 (plus fees). A one-night package includes a hotel room for Saturday night, three meals, and two wine tastings. A one-person package costs $180.00 (plus fees), and a two-person package costs $285.00 (plus fees). A full itinerary and registration is listed here.