As the oldest continually operating winery in Arizona, Sonoita Vineyards has had plenty of time to hone its craft. Its enduring success is partly due to its hillside location, which, although lovely for humans, is even better for grapes. Nestled on a south-facing slope, the 30 acres of vineyards are protected from much of the area's harsh weather and supplied with plenty of water by root-guarding berms. This setting has proven ideal for 10 varieties of grape vines, whose fruit becomes Sonoita Vineyards' 12 wines and whose stems and leaves go back into the soil to fertilize more grapes. These vintages include crisp, sparkling whites and an earthy blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah grapes. Perhaps the popular vintage is the cabernet sauvignon, which is so celebrated that it's been served at a presidential inauguration gala and used to christen every new vice president.
The flavor profiles of these wines come to life during staff-guided group tastings and wine flights in the tasting room. These tastings aren't the bar's only attractions: the wine-production facilities are visible from the bar, and visits during the late-summer harvest season provide a glimpse into the winemaking process as it happens. Meanwhile, an outdoor portico offers a space for picnics and views framed by mountain ranges.
Visitors to CataVinos Wine Shoppe & Tasting Room are treated to a flight of six hand-selected wines tied together by a common theme. On Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays, folks taste their way through six wines?along with cheese and crackers as palate-cleansers: each week, the wines might all hail from the same country, or they might focus on a holiday, such as "Thanksgiving Feast Wines." The themes change weekly, but the atmosphere stays the same, with visitors invariably meeting someone new as they sip their wine flights.
For customers ready to commit to a whole bottle, the shop has a full selection of reds, whites, sparkling, and dessert wines, including domestics and imports from around the world. They're modestly priced, too?hundreds of them are under $15. For special occasions or as gifts, the team packages custom-designed?wicker gift baskets, alongside goodies like chocolate, bruschetta sauce, cheese, and olives.
Enophile John Davis founded Wine Insiders 25 years ago, using his octopus-like industry connections to assemble a panel of wine experts who would seek out the best and most affordable wines. On average, his league of critics approves 5 out of every 100 bottles sampled, ensuring that only the most delicious wines get recommended to his customers. The team even offers a satisfaction guarantee: if customers aren't 100% delighted by the vinos they've selected, Wine Insiders will refund the full cost of the order, no questions asked?not even "So, you doing anything fun this weekend?" Despite its staff's legendary pickiness, Wine Insiders stocks a variety of red and white wines, including pinot noirs, pinot grigios, rieslings, and cabernet sauvignons, each joined by an informative description.
Charles Kendrick has been cooking since the 1960s, taking his fondness for traditional barbecue flavoring to the kitchen with his latest venture—Mr. K's Barbeque. Mr. K's serves a distinct style of patiently-smoked Tucson barbecue, in a market-style setting, that includes half-pound pork, beef, and chicken sandwiches in a tomato-based sauce and racks of ribs served simply in dry-rubbed tuxedos. The restaurant also offers catering packages that feature one, two, or three meats along with homemade sides.
Inside Jerry’s Cigars opulent, inviting store and lounge, rows of name-brand cigars in wooden boxes peek through glass cases as customers relax in large black easy chairs, sampling smokes and playing cards. A neon-lit Jerry’s Cigars sign and several flat-screen televisions line the high ceilings above cases stacked neatly with pipes and accessories, and a ventilation system efficiently disperses smoke clouds, preventing unexpected Gorillas in the Mist re-enactments.
Wine Depot opens its cellar doors just once a week, at which point vinophiles can pour inside to peruse rare, handcrafted, Old World German wines in more than 30 varietals. Wine Depot's oldest supplier boasts a start date of 1464, back when grapes were new to the planet and thought they'd never experience the fate of raisins. The specialty store's mammoth cellar maintains a proper storage temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring all 20,000-plus bottles ($14–$600, $20–$30 on average) stay tasty and fresh. Sips range from crisp, mineral-forward pinot grigios to richly tannic cabernet franc, and semisweet and dry rieslings lend classic German tastes to atypical German breakfasts made of pizza puffs. To aid patrons in decision making, the experienced staffers at Wine Depot host a schedule of free weekly wine tastings, each offering samples of five handcrafted wines.