Our early career as a consultants focused on rural economic development and planning. We have fond memories of helping community leaders define a vision that will protect their town’s unique qualities while ensuring a strong future for the next generations. Now, our past career collides with our true passions – food and wine. Here are three of my top AZ Food & Wine Staycation destinations in rural communities that we had the honor to assist.
Clarkdale, Arizona – This is one of my favorite rural small towns with historic buildings, rich history, and a central town park in the heart of wine country. Plan a stay at the small boutique Park Hotel owned and operated by Becky and Craig Backus. The hotel was originally built in 1915 and has undergone an amazing revitalization to feature five king rooms, one grand king room, and two queen rooms. Some with kitchenettes and second floor rooms that have beautiful views of Mingus Mountain and Town Park. After dropping your bags into your room, enjoy a finely crafted beer brewed with passion and creativity at the Smelter Town Brewery on the building’s first floor. Visit the other nearby attractions within walking distance including the Verde Canyon Railroad and the Arizona Copper Art Museum.
Feeling hungry, stroll into the Main Street Café owned/operated by Scott and Chelsea Honey who have many years in the food and hospitality industries. The menu is diverse and features daily specials, fresh house-made pizza, and a selection of appetizers and desserts. Dine in the restaurant or get your food “to-do” or better yet enjoy it next door at the 10-12 Lounge where they will deliver while you enjoy music and a drink. Finish the evening with a walk along Main Street and the Town Park. If you are lucky, your visit will coincide with a Concert in the Park which are held weekends during the summer.
Plan a full day of wine tasting, visiting Clarkdale’s three wineries: Southwest Wine Center, Bodega Pierce, and Chateau Tumbleweed. They are all producing award-winning wines with tasting rooms; some with great patios and panoramic views of the Verde Valley. There are many other places to enjoy Arizona wine particularly in Old Town Cottonwood. Sedona and Jerome are only a short 20-minute drive away. Or take a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad or a trip down the Verde River with Clarkdale Kayak Company.
Young, Arizona – The small mountain town 23 miles from Payson is where Arizona’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys played out in the 1880’s and lasted over a decade. The family feud is called the Pleasant Valley War. Today this beautiful valley is home to two vineyards/wineries – Tierra Madre Vineyards and Bruzzi Vineyards, as well as a few BnB options making it the perfect remote food, wine, and adventure get-away.
Once a 1920 homestead, Terra Madre Vineyards offers guests a choice of the Guest House or Garden House, both oozing with unique charm. Tierra Madre is one of Arizona’s newest vineyards. Drop your bags in the room, and stroll the vineyard, walk the spiral rock mediation garden, hike in the adjacent Tonto National Forest, or meander along the seasonal creek. There are endless back country roads, hiking/biking trails, fishing, and swimming holes as well as some incredible Indian ruins in the surrounding area. Don’t forget to feed the Babydoll sheep and Nigerian dwarf goats.
Another lodging option is the Cherry Creek Lodge located on a working 40,000-acre cattle/guest ranch within the Tonto National Forest. This is the place to stay if your bucket list includes being a part of a cattle drive or learning to rope a steer. Book a stay and breakfast, lunch, and dinner is included along with one activity. All meals are served family-style, and no one leaves hungry. Weekly cowboy cookouts are also a treat. Evenings are perfect for stargazing and watching wildlife graze.
Your visit to the Pleasant Valley is not complete without visiting Bruzzi Vineyard. Book a reservation to taste wine produced at 5,200-foot elevation and enjoy the nibbles they offer. Better yet enjoy dinner on the weekend and pair it with their award-winning Signature Vidal Blanc wine. A visit isn’t complete until you do the llama meet and greet with Amber and Abegail.
Dos Cabezas, Arizona – At the Gateway to Chiricahua Mountains and Willcox Wine Country sits the Dos Cabezas Retreat Bed and Breakfast on an historically important landmark and among the adobe ruins of Dos Cabezas. Today, Dos Cabezas is noted as one of the top ten ghost towns in Arizona, once home to Doc Holliday’s long-time partner, Big Nose Kate, T.N. McCauley, and other Old West characters.
The guesthouse bedrooms are in what was originally built in the 1870’s by Lecho Hurtado, and known as the Hospitality House, owned by T.N. McCauley, President of the famous Mascot Mine. Bedrooms were added up until 1935 and in 2009 it became a bed and breakfast.
Innkeepers Dorothy and Sam Laage are dedicated to visitor hospitality. Your stay includes a full breakfast and complimentary wine tasting with light appetizers served on arrival night. You cannot miss booking a wine pairing dinner with a local Arizona vintner. Sam is a wonderful gourmet chef and the Arizona wines being produced in the Willcox area are incredible.
Wake refreshed to explore beautiful Southeastern Arizona. Take a long or short hike in the Chiricahua National Monument, visit the Fort Bowie National Historic Site, and by noon you are ready to wine taste your way across the region. Do not miss making a private tasting and tour at LDV Winery in the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountain. They are open for tastings by appointment only. LDV award-winning wines are sustainably grown in the volcanic soils at 5,000-foot elevation. The vineyard/winery tour with winemaker Curt Dunham is extraordinary. If you can’t visit LDV at the vineyard, visit their tasting room in Old Town Scottsdale open every day at noon.
Plan an AZ Food & Wine Staycation in one or all these rural Arizona locations with so much to offer. You will not be disappointed.