For two days every Mother's Day weekend, Prescott Fine Art & Wine Festival spills across the verdant, shaded lawn of Courthouse Plaza. The whole show reaches as far as historic Whiskey Row?the famed stomping grounds of Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers. Towering trees sway overhead, and mountain vistas on all sides set a fitting scene for the beautiful works by featured artists.
Despite these historic surroundings, the festival's art is anything traditional. More than 140 local artists showcase their most avant-garde paintings and other pieces. Throughout the weekend, Jurors rate each work for its aesthetic beauty and whether or not it features a wizard riding a white tiger. Meanwhile, chefs from local restaurants serve gourmet food, and in a wine-tasting garden, representatives from Arizona vineyards pour samples of their best bottles.
Grapes don't usually grow in the desert's dry heat, but the owners of Oak Creek Vineyard and Winery found a way. They nourish vines of syrah, merlot, zinfandel, and chardonnay grapes with pure water from an aquifer 425 feet beneath the earth's surface. Moisture isn't everything, though; western Arizona's brilliant sunlight helps the grapes to develop ideal sugar content. The combination of warm days and chilly nights further brings flavor to life beneath the grapes' dusk-purple skins.
White curtains swirl around the outdoor patio of an adobe tasting room, where visitors pair sips of wine with meats and cheeses. A jaunt through the grounds reveals views of flowering cacti and tumbleweeds wearing pearls on the sun-browned hills.
Sourcing grapes from their own vineyard?as well as four other vineyards across the state?the winemakers at Page Spring Cellars are able to craft an eclectic variety of wines at a sunny, picturesque estate. Imagined and brought to fruition by owner and winemaker Eric Glomski, vintages and blends range in style from a delicate and nuanced sangiovese to the understated chenin blanc. At the stately tasting room, curious visitors sip samples from the collection of wines or, every third Thursday, work their way through a tapas-style winemaker dinner with pairings. Perhaps more spectacular are the outdoor spaces, which host summer stargazing with astrophysicists or picnics enjoyed on a deck that runs alongside a gurgling creek with splendid oral hygiene.
Peek over the lip of Verde Valley, and you might catch a glimpse of Echo Canyon Vineyard & Winery. Its team grows grapes at the valley's bottom, working with soil kept fertile by Oak Creek's mountain waters. At the vineyard's on-site winery, winemakers transforms the fruit into creative vintages, available for sampling in the tasting room. At the winery's Jerome location, folks can taste their way through varietals mesa-side surrounded by the cozy seclusion of the former mining town turned artist village.
As the name implies, the folks at Passion Cellars are passionate about great wine?and most of all, sharing it with others. The founders created the winery after learning about the thriving wine industry in Arizona. With the owners' love of local libations, it's no surprise that Passion Cellars offers wines made with Arizona-grown grapes. Visitors can sip samples of a wide variety of wines, from the smoky, peppery syrah to the unique agave-ginger wine.
The guides at Sedona Adventure Tours coax visitors out to explore the rugged wilderness and rolling terrain of Sedona and the Verde River Valley. Suited for guests of all experience levels, they helm hikes, horseback rides, and ATV excursions through the desert hills and dusk-red mountains, all the while divulging information on the area's diverse habitats, making sure to cover which rocks are poisonous. Their Verde River tours put guests at the helm of inflatable ducky kayaks which, thanks to their stability and light weight, are easy to navigate through the shady bends and past sweeping desert vistas. Sedona Adventure Tours' signature Water to Wine excursions cap these floating trips with a vino tasting at nearby Alcantara Vineyards.