California may be the first region that comes to mind when you think of wineries in the U.S., but Arizona and New Mexico have their fair share and provide wine lovers plenty of local activities to enjoy.
Rock out at Arizona Stronghold Vineyards
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards hosts performances by local musicians every Friday night at its Tasting Room, 1023 N. Main St., Cottonwood. After all, Tool lead singer Maynard Keenan cofounded and co-owns the vineyard along with acclaimed winemaker Eric Glomski. You can hear live music from 6 to 9 p.m. Pair with a guided wine tasting for just $9 and learn about five of Arizona Stronghold’s offerings. Visit azstronghold.com for more information.
Mozy on over to Sonoita Vineyards
Arizona Horseback Experience offers two- and three-hour horseback rides to nearby Sonoita Vineyards. Riders leave in the morning and ride through canyons, scenic grasslands and rolling hills before arriving at the state’s largest and oldest commercial winery. The outing includes wine tasting and lunch at the vineyard, plus a souvenir glass and bottle of wine. Don’t worry about riding back under the influence; vehicles transport everyone back to the stables at 16 Coyote Court, Sonoita, Ariz. Check out horsebackexperience.com for more information.
Sip at the senator’s Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar
Wine lovers need not wait for a special event at Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar, 1326 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. While the downtown establishment owned by Sen. Ken Cheuvront does host bimonthly wine tastings with well-known sommeliers from around the valley, resident sommelier Jeff Grenfell trains every member of the staff to discuss the offerings in detail and to suggest pairings for artisan cheeses and entrees. The wine menu includes bottles from around the world. Wines by the glass and flight also are available. Visit cheuvronts.com for more.
Dine amid the vines at Estrella Del Norte Vineyard
Estrella Del Norte Vineyard in Santa Fe hosts vineyard dinners once a month during the summer in its beautiful outdoor gardens, 106 N. Shining Sun. The June feast will feature Moroccan fare paired with award-winning local wines. A seat at the table costs $75, with chef’s table access available for $100. The latter provides a close-up view of chef Rocky Durham at work. Go to estrelladelnortevineyard.com for details.
Get your New Mexico Wine Growers Association Passport stamped
With the New Mexico Wine Trail Passport Program, wine lovers earn prizes as they tour the state’s vineyards. A total of 47 stamps — from 46 member wineries and one festival — must be collected within a year, but many of the vineyards are located in clusters. Each stamp requires a minimum $10 purchase. The program awards prizes at different levels, from a 15 percent discount at participating wineries to the grand prize, a wine-themed trip. Visit nmwine.com for more information.
Plan a romantic weekend or friends' weekend around one of these five activities for wine lovers, and fully enjoy the experience.