Carla Nelson/Maritime Travel
A few weeks ago, I was visiting family in Phoenix and we took a drive north to the Verde Valley, and discovered a little gem of a town – Cottonwood.
Originally a mining town, it is located in the County of Yavapai in the heart of the Verde Valley on the banks of the Verde River. A semi-arid climate with temperatures ranging from highs of 13C to lows of -3C in winter, highs of 36C to lows of 20C in summer, with only 33cm of precipitation per year, this makes for good grape growing, and this town offers many tasty wines – who knew?
Though only 20 minutes from Sedona, you feel quite removed from the busy, touristy, refined city of Sedona. Cottonwood is close enough to feature similar red rock formations and canyons, but removed enough to remind you of the historic, old west town that it still is. The main street features antique shops, local art galleries, bakeries, shops, and of course, saloons. The Blazin M Ranch is only a few minutes outside town along the Verde River and offers a Old Wild West Show, a saloon, and a great rib BBQ.
Wandering the main street, I found one after another wine tasting rooms! Wineries in this area are all small producers, so you taste wines you won’t find anywhere else, and once you are finished tasting, you get to keep the souvenir glass – great conversation pieces for your next happy hour gathering!
The Arizona Stronghold Tasting Room is quaint, funky, fun and relaxed. Guests enjoy tasting flights while playing a game of backgammon or chess, with local cheese plates. Local art covers the walls. The staff are young, knowledgeable and excited to share their wines. No one is in a hurry here, very laidback. Reminds me of our Nelson vibe in the Kootenays.
Burning Tree Cellars Tasting Room features leather sofas and live music. Great wines, comparable to those from California, Washington and Oregon. Fire Mountain Wines, just down the main street, is known for its wine and chocolate pairing flights.
Alcantara Vineyards is located just outside town on the banks of the Verde River. A beautiful vista of vineyards and the river, they have a small bistro and outdoor patio. ‘Charlie Brown’, the resident chocolate lab wanders from table to table greeting the guests.
So there is wine tasting there, but is there anything else to do? Of course. Horseback trail rides, skydiving over the red rock canyons, golf, balloon rides, hiking, biking and more. At night, Kactus Kate’s Saloon gets going, and there’s live music at the Main Stage. There are sufficient hotels and B&B’s, and of course, much less expensive than comparable dwellings in the more popular Sedona.
If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth checking out. And if you’re a bit of a wine snob like me, you’ll be pleasantly impressed with the selections! For more information, contact Carla Nelson, Branch Manager, Maritime Travel 250.489.4788.