We got up the next morning and dressed for a day of drinking wine. What does one wear to drink wine? Pretty much anything they choose. It was cool there, bordering on cold, and I’ve lived in Arizona for so long I am confident my blood is about the consistency of tap water. So for awhile I thought I might die. Also, because in Arizona it’s already summer, I had only brought sleeveless or short sleeved things and one very sad, very well worn sweater. That sweater got a lot of use during this trip. Note to self: take warmer clothes next time.
I had searched for a wheelchair accessible tour for us for quite awhile. I had called several places only to be told that they didn’t have any accessible vehicles but they’d be happy to store my wheelchair for me if I could manage the stairs to the bus. No can do. I don’t walk on flat surfaces, I certainly can’t walk on stairs. So, the search was on. Right before I found the amazing tour that we went on, I came across a tour on a train through the wine country. It said it was wheelchair accessible (or as wheelchair accessible as an ancient historic train can be). It even had a wheelchair lift. I was stoked. Then I read the fine print that said basically – yep, we’ll get you on the train and you can sit very still and go for a ride but you can’t get off at the wineries. Umm, huh? I am going on a tasting tour but I can’t get off the train to taste? No thank you. Luckily enough, I came across Grapeline Tours. They didn’t have an accessible vehicle but assured me they could get one. I talked and emailed with them several times and decided this one at least wanted to help us. So, the five of us booked the tour with them.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Quite honestly, I was wondering if a van with a plywood board masquerading as a ramp was what was going to pick us up. I had checked in with them right before we left just to make sure all was still on with the accessible vehicle and they assured me it was all set. That morning we were sitting having breakfast at the Hampton Inn’s complimentary breakfast room when this gorgeous white bus drove up and parked. We weren’t sure it was for us, but I went out to check and lo and behold it was our bus. And there wasn’t a plywood board ramp! Off we went to drink copious amounts of wine.
Our first winery was Kunde Family Winery which is over 1800 acres of awesomeness. The vineyard itself is kind of awe-inspiring. And to my surprise it’s not just field of flat land with grapes growing on it. It’s hilly and has lots of trees and roses everywhere. If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it. Our tasting host was named Kat, and she was amazing. She took us on a tour of the cave (which I honestly expected would not be accessible to me – I was wrong) and showed us the barrels where the wines were aged. Then we got to taste the wines. I honestly don’t know how many wines we tasted. I think we were supposed to get five. I think we actually got much closer to 12. Kat seemed to really enjoy doing the tastings, and the more you talked with her the more she wanted to share different wines with you. I happened to talk to her a lot. I may or may not have been a bit buzzed by the end of this tour.
Fortunately, the next stop was St. Anne’s Crossing Winery which was where we would have food. Food to soak up the copious amounts of wine. There we sat on this gorgeous patio and had wine and a really nice box lunch from The Girl and the Fig. St. Anne’s Crossing is known for their Zinfandels – no not that pink wine that you buy in the “BIG” bottle with the screw top lid. This Zinfandel is red and fruity with just enough tannin to make your mouth say “why thank you sir, I’ll have another” every time you finish a glass. After we left St. Anne’s we headed to Deerfield Ranch Winery which makes low sulfite wines. Nothing really stood out for me at this tasting. I don’t know if maybe by this point I was getting a little “wined” out, which seems shocking because I love wine and maybe after the gorgeous patio of the last place and the amazing scenery of Kunde, this one just didn’t stand out that much for me. I don’t remember not liking any of the wines which likely means by the end of this tour I was witty and jovial and more than a tiny bit buzzed.
The last stop for the day was Ledson Winery and Vineyards which is absolutely beautiful from the outside. It’s built into a castle that is just spectacular to look at from the road. Inside, the castle is also very pretty but in my opinion, this tour was confusing and disorganized. I don’t blame our host from the tour, it seemed like she thought we’d be going to one room in the castle and instead they kind of shooed us into the bar area where we were greeted by a really disinterested guy who seemed to have drawn the short straw to be our wine steward. He obviously didn’t want to be doing it, and I stopped even attempting to learn anything about the wines about five minutes in. Were the wines good? Sure. But nothing about him made me want to buy any and isn’t that the whole point of a wine tour?
By this point, I know I was pretty much drunk. Not sloppy fall down drunk, but definitely feeling good and having fun. The tour was amazing, I would do it again in a heartbeat, and the company of good friends is absolutely the best part of the entire adventure.
Norene, Fran, Me, Kathy and Julie at Kunde Family Winery