Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vinyard hopping near Jerome, Arizona

This time of year, as more RVs flock to the warmer climates, some wonder, "What's to do?" If you're a vino fancier, the red rock areas near Sedona beckon. Yep, it's hard to believe that this is wine country, what with all the press California gets, but this has been a "vintage year" for Arizona. No rain, perfect grape growing temperatures, and no late frost. As a result, the vintners are rejoicing.

In Jerome alone there are two places you can taste the miracle of the grape in wine tasting rooms right at the wineries. Clinging to the side of Cleopatra Hill is Jerome Winery. If you have a hard-to-please vino palate, they may have what you desire, producing 30 different handcrafted wines. Meanwhile, down on Main Street you'll find Caduceus Cellars, headed up by Maynard Keenan, the lead singer of a musical group called Tool.

Never heard of 'em? That makes several of us. But Keenan makes an interesting claim for his vino, if we may quote: "My art and music has been described as ‘thick, dense, rich complex, engaging, emotional, and spiritual,’ by those who are fans. And an ‘acquired taste’ for those kind others who are not." We'll let you sort that one out on your own.

Where to stay in the Jerome area? For the hardy boondocker, there's the Mingus Mountain Campground on US Forest Service land (Take Highway 89A south out of Jerome about 7 miles to Forest Route 104, thence roughly east about three more miles--inquire locally!). If you need something softer--with hookups, there's Dead Horse Ranch State Park near Cottonwood (about 8 miles away).

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