Time for a Little Vino - Ascaping Covid and Winter in Arizona - CycleBlaze

December 22, 2020

Time for a Little Vino

What did I tell you about these sunrises!
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Since we are spending Christmas at Kartchner, many of our neighbors have put out colorful lights, wreaths and this cute inflatable trailer. Do you see Santa in the doorway? As the air moved in and out of the trailer, the door would slowly open, then close. I've GOT to buy one of those for next year!
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Today we chose to ride near Sonoita in the wine region.
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I like the name of this winery. It was open for tasting but we passed on it for this year.
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At first we thought this was a huge mansion, but it too was another winery - the Twisted Union. Perhaps the owners live on site?
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This region has been designated by the US government as an American Viticultural Area - Arizona's first in 1984. Grapes for wine have been grown here since 1690 when they were brought into the area by missionaries. That grape - called the Mission grape - is still cultivated here. Because of Sonoita's higher altitude, unique climate, soil and geographical location, surrounded by several mountain ranges, grapes can thrive here, as long as they get water. We rode past a number of vineyards full of deal vines. There are 13 wineries located here with many open for tastings. Wines made include: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Petite Syrah, Tannat, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Mission.
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Since we were back to having a working van, we decided to drive to Sonoita and do our ride through the winery area.

The drive went quickly and when we reached Sonoita, we decided to continue driving south to Patagonia Lake State Park to check it out for future camping. It was a pretty drive past scenic ranches and mountains. But we were surprised when we reached the turnoff to the park as we still had several more miles of VERY hilly road to go before we actually reached the lake. I sure wouldn't want to bike this - we'd be walking for sure!

The ranger at the entrance gate kindly let us into the park without paying the day rate since we were only doing a quick look see at the facilities. The camping looked ok but the sites were closer together. The lake did look pretty. Ideal spots would be right on the water. 

Back in Sonoita, we parked at a small shopping center located at the intersection of Highways 82 and 83. But as soon as we got out of the car, we found that the wind was really blowing. It was also cloudy as a cold front was moving through the area. Oh, and our back tire on the bike was flat again!

I went ahead and starting putting on warmer layers while Don fixed the flat. It was less than ideal riding conditions - Don even put on a long sleeve top. But we were here so decided to make the best of it.

We headed SE on  Highway 83 right into the wind. There was quite a bit of traffic for a dead end road - there is a lake at the end. Plus we had a few good sized hills to climb as we passed an area of nice homes. 

It was much nicer when we turned east onto Elgin Rd. where we lost most of the traffic and quite a bit of the wind. We've done this ride before and we enjoyed seeing all of the large ranches, wineries and vineyards. 

Some of vineyards had dead vines. We wondered why - maybe a lack of water, disease or they just ran out of money? 

Some of the wineries were open for tasting but we didn't stop. Maybe in a Covid free year.

The road itself was a little flatter with a few rolling hills and it was very pleasurable riding. I spotted a road runner and a couple of deer. 

When we reached the little community of Elgin, we went on through until we could go north toward Highway 82 for a couple of miles. Then we turned around and retraced our route back to the van. 

The sun had come out toward the end of the ride, but it was still cold and windy. So much for the forecasted 70 degree day! It was interesting that Patagonia was warmer than here. 

By the time that we got back to camp it was 4 pm and the sun was setting. It was way too cold and windy to do any dancing today!

Don took our grey water caddy tank over to the dump station while I tried to warm up in the trailer. RV'ers call it the "honey run" although our tank only collects the waste water from the sink. It sure has been handy though, since the state parks in AZ don't offer a sewer hookup at each site. Only fresh water and electric. 

After dinner we curled up on the dinette seats and watched some more Deep Space 9 before calling it a day.

Today's ride: 21 miles (34 km)
Total: 218 miles (351 km)

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