February 21st, 2004 – by: Africancrab
Signage for exit to Sonoita from Interstate 10 East
Who said the desert is without its charms? I always remind people to see instead of looking. Well having lived in this small yet beautiful countryside town for a little over four years, I can tell you that Sonoita is indeed a beautiful town to visit. Sonoita is a very small town in Arizona, located at the crossroads of US Highways 82 and 83, it is so small that if you as much as blink while driving to the town you will go right passed it, and I mean it literally. But it is a beautiful countryside elevated at close to 5000 feet and surrounded by undulating grassy hills. The grasslands are popularly referred to as Cienegas. The highway to Sonoita is quite scenic and welcoming, each time I drive up the mountains I feel like it is my fast time - Yet I lived there for close to 4 years before moving to Tucson.
Welcome to Sonoita sight at over 4900 feet Sonoita is so dry it is amazing
The boarder patrols are a popular sight as they continually patrol the Sonoita/ Patagonia
and Nogales areas for illegal immigrants from Mexico. For people who are not used it seeing them, they are no different than the local police (You would notice the difference however since their cars are normally huge double cabined vehicles and the Patrol side is in green color.
Caution: Please drive carefully on highway 83, the road is winding and rises up from 1000 to almost 5000 feet quickly, very sharp turns. Many have lost their lives on this road. I feel sad when I see the road side graves marked by a cross; sometimes loved ones will put flowers by the graves. The Santa Rita mountains are a treat to the eyes. To emphasize how small Sonoita is, you must look at the statistics this way: It is served by two Petrol stations (Shell, which is synonymous with the Sonoita Mercantile, which for years has been run by the Wystrach family), and most recent the Sonoita Fuel stop run by Brad.
The only accommodation in the town center - Sonoita Inn, owned by the owner of the Sonoitea Mercantile & Steak Out
There is only one Bank (National Bank - formerly The Stockmen's Bank), a USP post office, one law firm, no clinic or hospital, one has to go to Patagonia (12 miles away) to see Dr. Carlos Gonzales (well the last time I visited it was Dr. Sandaval). Our dentist of many years Dr. Schmidtke recently transferred his service to Tucson and is now replaced by another of many years of experience. The Steak house in Sonoita is probably the one restaurant that has made it popular to Tucsonans (if there is such a word) and others coming from out of State (you've got to try the steaks there when you visit). As for me and my family, it was a popular place to go each time we decided to dine out (to be honest the only place my ex would go to, ha-ha!!). On occasion my ex-husband took us to Sierra Vista
to Johnny Carinos (great Italian restaurant, check out my review on the restaurant).
My daughte ron Curly Horse road, yes it is a dirt road
My home church was Sonoita Bible Church whose leader, Pastor Eric Powell is also the Curb Scout's leader. A community man who loves the Lord and his congregation, (which includes pretty much all the people in the town (smile). I used to love the fundraiser breakfast brunches held by the fire department on Saturday mornings. The rodeo shows at the fairgrounds drew so many from Patagonia, Nogales, Tucson, Phoenix, Nevada, New Mexico as well as Texas. It happens to be the major event every year in the town.
I particularly loved the Sonoita winery: through the years I have done wine tasting in different countries of the world (non beats Cape Town), when I learned of a winery in Sonoita, I was extremely excited. The Callaghan Vineyards produce delicate wines that can be appreciated by wine drinker. If you are not a wine drinker, I'm probably talking Chinese to you, however if you are then you know what I mean by delicate. The varieties of Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Grenache, my favorite are the Petit Verdot.
Sonoita is greener and prettier after the rains.
If you chance to visit Arizona, Tucson particularly let me know and we can share a glass of Petit Verdot from the Callaghan Vineyards in our neighboring little town of Sonoita. You can visit the Calaghan Vineyard website for more information http://www.callaghanvineyards.com/
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain.