A Visit to Arizona Wine Country

Yes. Arizona has a wine country. Even many people who live here in the Phoenix area are surprised by this, so I imagine my readers at the farther reaches of the planet are thinking perhaps I am just writing about a dream I had after too many Moscow Mules.

Yet there I was in real life, in a vineyard an hour and a half out of town called Page Springs Cellars. 

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These poor grapes were suffering in the 100+ temperatures, but I suppose stress like that is good for fruit that is going to then be smashed and fermented for our pleasure. We opted out of the tour this time around and headed inside for a tasting.

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Having lived in the Bay Area for many years, the wine tasting experience is not new to me. Page Springs does not disappoint with its well laid out tasting rooms, beautiful patio, and even a food menu with small plates to select. We opted for the cheese platter and the Arizona Flight including one ounce pours of five different wines.

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The first wine, “Mule’s Mistake” is aptly named. It is a red blend with every grape known to man, including a bit of white for good measure. I did not enjoy it, but Joe thought it was good enough to have with dinner.

The second wine was a cabernet. Our host explained that due to the monsoons in Arizona, this particular grape has to be grown a bit differently than in climates without our monsoon season. The wine comes out significantly lighter than a cab from the Napa floor, where the summers are almost completely dry. I’ve always found it fascinating how you can take the same grape around the world, give it different soil and different weather patterns, and the wine that comes out is distinct to that region.

The final three wines on the list were also blends and I loved them all. A little spicy, but not in that zinfandelly way that I find so displeasing. (Joe swears it is because I haven’t tasted the right zinfandel. I still assert that there are some grapes that just don’t work for me. Pinot Gris is another. From the moment I smell it I am repelled.)

After our tasting we braved the heat once again to check out the deck overlooking Oak Creek. It was around 100 degrees out and probably 50% humidity. I hope to go back when it is not so miserable because it was such a lovely spot.

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We walked down this path and I was so taken by the bunches of grapes hanging overhead that I fell down the first step. Being the pro that I am, I only spilled a bit of wine on my hand and Joe’s arm – no clothing was stained in the accident. It probably helps that the glasses were stemless and I had a good hold before tripping.

Sadly, I was so discombobulated by my fall, I forgot to take a photo of the delightful deck. Trust me, it’s extremely unique and a great place to enjoy a glass of wine. You just might want to go during the cooler season as we were sweating by the time we hiked back up to the car.

Stay tuned for our adventures in Jerome. What a crazy little town that place is – lots of drinking and art and stairs galore.

Until then, here is a funny picture Joe took of me taking my grape shot. No fancy camera for me these days….

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Happy July, Phoenicians. We Will Survive!

Fourth of July Weekend!

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I envy all my friends around the country in cooler places, watching fireworks over the water and wearing sweatshirts. This time of year I try to remain in a Zen-like state, and remember that great suffering is necessary to appreciate beauty and happiness and love, etc. And when it does cool off again – sometime around Halloween – we will all skip happily through our cul-de-sac with extra joy.

But Halloween seems so far away, especially this morning when it was 97 degrees and 48% humidity when I dropped my kids at camp. At 8 in the morning.

Everything about life gets more oppressive, and my grey cubicle with fluorescent lights sucking energy directly out of my skull on a Monday morning is no exception.

So I took a break. Here I must express my gratitude for having a job that allows such a thing. I can escape when the corporate-ness of my basement becomes unbearable. I appreciate that. Not as much as I appreciate my couch and my new polka-dot pajamas.

Since I spent some time at the Art Table with my boys on Sunday, I was itching for some new supplies.

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One might look at this photo and think I have plenty of art supplies. I even have Mod Podge! Paints. Colored pencils. Sponges. Paper. Every kind of graphite pencil. Pens. Markers. Even a few leftover Christmas ornaments dying to be decorated. But what happens when you get out all your art supplies, at least in my house, is you realize what you still need.

Plus, my kids refused to go to Arizona Art Supply this weekend¬†and instead opted for Michael’s. So I headed down to Indian School at 16th and perused the shelves of every type beautiful art making goodness. I got the boys some new canvas in different sizes, a few charcoal pencils for me, and another sketchbook. I was looking for someplace nearby to eat as I walked to my car, and Yelp reminded me of Middle Eastern Bakery Deli. (No link. Because there isn’t one.)

Joy in the midst of suffering.

Please, dear fellow Phoenicians, if you like hummus, or gyros, or feta pie, or pita, head over to this market on 16th Street. And if you’re gluten free – extra bonus! Even if you’re only gluten-free for fake reasons, I encourage you to try the gyro on gluten free pita. You will not know the difference.

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(Oh and look! It’s my new iPod Nano Joe got me in the background! Perfect for drowning out the sounds of the people who sit around me and yammer incessantly to clients.)

I also got a dozen pita in the freezer – of course they were completely thawed by the time I drove back to the office.

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(Also, my new sketchbook.)

I promise soon to give a camping update, and this weekend I’m going to Page Springs Winery which proves to be an action-packed post. Joe has suggested I become a professional blogger, since my topics seem to outweigh my time these days….

I read blogs. I still am not certain how one gets paid from writing them, but it is a great idea on paper.

Stay cool my friends. 16 more weeks until Halloween….