Since part of the Camino winds its way through the Rioja section of northern Spain, I figured training should include a similar terrain. Last week I had a visitor from the East Coast and one of the points of interest I always take my guests is the Southern Arizona Wineries. What a perfect way to train for the Camino I rationalized. So we seized the opportunity, jumped into the car and drove about an hour south to the Sonoita/Elgin wineries.
We arrived at our first winery at about 11 am; thankfully the tasting rooms open at 10:30 am. Our plan was to visit as many wineries as possible and then have a steak before returning home. There is the most fabulous steak house in the little town of Sonoita (http://www.azsteakout.com/ ). The steaks are cooked over an open grill of mesquite wood and the atmosphere is very “cowboy saloon” like.
After we had visited three winery tasting rooms, (http://www.wilhelmvineyards.com/Default.aspx ; http://ranchorossa.com/ and http://www.sonoitavineyards.com/ ) we mentioned to the owner of the fourth, the Lightning Ridge Winery (http://www.lightningridgecellars.com/) that we were headed to the Steak Out. She told us the restaurant didn’t open until 5 p.m. on Fridays. It was only 1 o’clock at that time and the thought of trying to stay upright for another 4 hours of wine tasting seemed unattainable.
After visiting one more winery tasting room (http://www.kj-vineyards.com/ ) we realized we needed to eat some food because both of us continued to call the Kief-Joshua Vineyard the Keifer Sutherland Winery and then break into laughter.
We decided to head into the town of Sonoita to try another restaurant before returning to Tucson. We ended up eating in the only Italian restaurant in the town, Viaggio Italiano. Both of us had a Panini sandwich that was served to us by a very pleasant German lady.
On the ride home, we saw a very large snake side winding his way across Highway 83 – thankfully (or maybe not) he made his way across the highway very quickly and avoided being squished by one of my tires. I have been seeing many snakes this spring – many, many more than I have seen since I moved to Arizona in 2007. There were even handwritten warnings in many of the wine tasting rooms to be aware and beware of rattlesnakes; they had already been sighted in the vineyards.
But on a more pleasant note, one of the baby hummingbirds flew out of the nest this morning. I was lucky enough to get a photo just before the fledgling took flight.