In the middle of the street on the meridian of the streets in Scottsdale, I never saw such a big cactus in all my life until I went to visit my friend Lisa Wines. Beautiful and majestic as they reached for the sky, there were several as tall as Palm trees as if to say “Welcome to Arizona”!
While in the USA, I am mostly here on business. So it was nice to take a breather from the long drives and busy airports to visit a friend. Lisa came to pick me up at the Phoenix airport driving her mother’s grand old golden colored Ford Roadmaster, a car that is as long as a boat and rides like one too. You don’t see these cars anymore because they stopped making them in the seventies (I think). Nevertheless, when I got into this car, the one thing that came to mind was HUGE car, yet very comfortable. It was like taking a virtual drive down the sunny roads of Arizona from your living room sofa…
Lisa was a great hostess. She gave me a Tour of Phoenix and Scottsdale, the city where she actually lives. She gave me a nice tour of Scottsdale, its Indian reservation (not much there to see except for the Casino) and old western town Scottsdale (much better and more fun touristically). Lisa also took me to some of her favorite places to eat. When we got to an area where eating out was kind of the norm I smelled aromas of freshly grilled meats that were making us both pretty hungry, but Lisa wanted that we try her favorite, the FnB restaurant that served freshly grown products and organic wines. With only two tables outside being served and no one inside, we got a kind of snooty waiter reception which completely turned me off from wanting to eat there. So we left and followed my nose to the sumptuous and enticing aromas. We found ourselves in front of an old-fashioned hamburger and beer place that served half off local beers during happy hour. Even though it wasn’t happy hour, we did decide to try the local beers with our gigantic American size burgers. I took a beer that was white chocolate in flavor and Lisa had a beer that was more dark chocolate. Both went very well with the burgers we couldn’t finish, but took the rest home with us for later…
Lisa showed me some of the other sites of Scottsdale such as the praying monk (a bunch of rocks fallen together to take a shape of a man praying), the Boldereign (a home that had to be built by helicopter because of the position of the land there was no way to take equipment up by trucks), and El Chorros, one of the oldest restaurants of Scottsdale where the celebrity movie stars and entertainment people use to dine). She also took me to other restaurants that were great places, but because I really wanted to visit at least one vineyard before leaving Arizona, Lisa took me to one of the closest vineyard regions to Scottsdale in northern Arizona a two-hour car ride away.
Named after the owner’s grandmother, Alcantara Vineyard & Winery is located on the confluence of the Verde and Oak Creek Rivers in Cottonwood, Arizona. Barbara and her husband Bob Predmore bought this eighty-seven acres property, which didn’t have vines at all, and vines planted just some five years ago. With twenty acres currently planted with grapes, Barbara calls herself just a farmer who gets pleasure in farming the land. She has dedicated this adventure to creating a sustainable community of vineyards and orchards and is well on her way to doing just that. Barbara Predmore has planted many different grape varietals such as the Viognier, Pinot Grigio for their white wines and Syrah, Merlot, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and a little unknown grape called the Charbono grapes for their reds.
Although the weather is pretty constant with temperatures of 75° – 85°F and cool nights, the terrain of limestone and rocky soil is still a bit too dry and brittle to really resemble Tuscany, there are some similarities that are enticing when it comes to the Tasting room. The comfortable setting of the Tasting room is quite charming, calming and relaxing. But before you get to this oasis, you are greeted quite loudly by Charlie Brown, a beautiful and friendly brown colored Labrador. Barbara tells everyone who encounters Charlie for the first time that this is just his way to say ‘welcome to Alcantara’.
We got a chance to taste almost all of their wines and found them to be fruit forward, spicy and have a certain fullness and richness to them. I really liked their 100% 2011 Pinot Grigio which was the liveliest of their white wines standing out from the others because of its refreshing tartness. I also liked Barbara’s signature wine, the dainty yet fruity 2011 Confluence, a blend using the Charbono grape.
Because our visit to Alcantara lasted an enchanting two-and a half hours, we didn’t make it as far as the old town of Cottonwood which is a pity for me, but that just means that I will need to better organize myself for another Arizona adventure in the future.