Sonoita Vineyards: A Day Trip from Tucson

sonoita-vineyards-a-day-trip-from-tucson While we were in Tucson, we took a day trip to the Sonoita Vineyards. While I’m definitely not a wine connoisseur, we had a fun time trying different wines and learning about how they are made.  Leaving the city, we drove for about 45 minutes down a scenic 2 lane road.  The ride may have been long but it was filled with stunning views along the way. On either side were the most gorgeous orange mountain landscapes (my iPhone camera couldn’t do it justice!).We even saw some antelope and a coyote! Our destination was a community of vineyards, 11 in all. We only had time to visit two of them but it was still worth the trip!


Our first stop was the Flying Leap Vineyards for a wine tasting. Here they had a predetermined flight for us to try.  As a predominantly white wine drinker, I was a little worried when there was only one white wine in the flight. Luckily for me the reds did not disappoint! My favorite even ended up being one of the reds, a red blend called Head Over Heels.

flying-leap-vineyards-sonoitaWhen most of the other customers had left we asked Kelly, the employee helping us with our tasting, the proper way to try all of these wines. So for all other non wine experts, Here’s how it goes:

Swirl: You want to swirl the wine around in your glass to “aromatize” the wine in the glass (aka make it easier to smell).

Sniff: This one is exactly how it sounds. Stick your nose in the glass and take a nice whiff. The reason you do this is because you can smell so many more of the flavorings inside the wine than what you can taste in your mouth

Sip: And finally you get to drink it! Swish the wine around in your mouth to get to try to get a taste of all of the flavors.

One fantastic tip that Kelly gave us was to eat chocolate with the wine and he had a bowl of chocolate chips sitting out to eat. It really did make the wine taste even better!

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Our second stop was at the Kief-Joshua Vineyard. This one had a different atmosphere than the first – the exterior was a beautiful stone facade while the interior had such an Arizona feel. Instead of a specific flight of wines that you take in order, here you picked your tastings off of a list of various wines and descriptions. This is probably better for a true wine connoisseur (or anyone who knows more than our limited wine knowledge) since it let you choose the wines you were most  likely to enjoy. We were mostly picking at random or taking suggestions. My favorite here was their zinfandel.

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Overall the experience costed two people $32 total (excluding gas to get there) for over 3 hours of tasting and learning.  You can buy a souvenir tasting glass at one winery to use at all of them so we bought ours at the Flying Leap Winery for $4. The cost of the tastings varied by winery, we spent $7 at Flying Leap and $5 at Kief-Joshua. We spent half the day at these two vineyards and that was a good amount of time for us but if you are a true wine lover you could easily spend the whole day exploring this community of vineyards!

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Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: Tucson, AZ

arizona-sonora-desert-museum-visit-tucson-arizonaThe Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum was the surprise hit of our trip to Tucson. We didn’t have any plans to visit it but a friend suggested it since we had some extra time. We were only there for an hour and a half but it was definitely worth it. I thought it was going to be a typical museum in a building filled with rooms of exhibits but that was not the case here! The best way I can think to describe it is a zoo in the desert.

The museum consisted of paved and dirt paths winding through the various exhibits. The landscape in general was gorgeous, every two seconds I would stop to try to take a picture!

Our first stop was at the Hummingbird Aviary. There were so many hummingbirds flying around our heads, perching on trees and eating from feeders. There were signs to help you identify the different type of humming birds and to tell you which types are more prevalent in which seasons. And if you see the scorpions don’t worry, they’re fake! They are there to scare the hummingbirds away from grates and areas that would be harmful for them to get into.

Our next stop was at the underwater viewing area for sea otters and beavers. We weren’t able to spot the beaver but the sea otter saw us through the glass and came right on over wanting to play and show off! We were able to see our furry friend again from above so he could show off some more!

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An instant hit was the Cat Canyon. There was an ocelot, two bobcats and a porcupine. There were 3 different viewing areas for each exhibit. We were able to see the ocelot sunbathing from above, through a simple wire fence on ground level and a glass observation area. The bobcats were a little more active strutting around their enclosure coming right up close to the wire and glass viewing areas.

The last thing we had time for was the Cactus Garden. Who knew there were so many types of cacti?! My personal favorite was the Teddy Bear Cholla. It ranged from 3-5 ft tall and looked cute enough to cuddle! (please don’t cuddle the cactus…)

If are able to go again we will definitely give ourselves more time because we were only able to see about half of the museum! In addition to what we saw, there is a half mile long desert trail, a reptile/invertebrates/amphibians area, some dessert grassland animals to view and more. If you’re planning a visit, I’d recommend giving yourself half the day to make sure you can see everything!

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