Our interview with Shannon, Co-Owner of AZ Hops & Vines

“..my sister is a horticulturist, a viticulturist, a vinologist and she was like ‘why do I feel like I’m less than?’ And we thought, we never, ever want anyone visiting us to have that experience ever.”

What are three things you want people to know about your winery?

The winery is women-owned and operated. We’re very kid-friendly and pet-friendly… it’s okay if you put those all as one thing (laughs). We’re laidback and we want people to feel at home. Honestly, a lot of people are intimidated at the idea of visiting wineries. My sister, a sommelier, and I were tasting at a winery once in Napa and they were so pretentious and rude. And she, my sister, is a horticulturist, a viticulturist, a vinologist and she was like ‘why do I feel like I’m less than?’ And we thought, we never, ever want anyone visiting us to have that experience ever. We’re here offering wine tastings not curing cancer.

What is your favorite wine on the menu and why?

The Sebastian, it’s the last of our estate, and it’s named after my youngest child. And I think it is the best one my sister has made yet.

For people who are travelling a bit to get here, what else would you recommend that they do in Sonoita?

I would absolutely have them go wine-tasting but also it’s just so beautiful just driving out here. I would definitely stop at the Cafe or the Steakout. The lead singer of Midland, his parents own the Steakout, so he’s always in there. There’s honestly nowhere that comes to mind that I wouldn’t want people to visit or check out.

What’s the story behind the peacock? Where’d he come from?

Oh, that’s Frank. We originally got him from a ranch in Marana and a female too. That was about three years ago. When we first got him he ran off to the neighbor’s once, nobody could catch him. But now, he’s a lot more settled. People love seeing him. [What happened to the female? What was her name?] We actually never named her and I guess I feel a bit guilty about that, she just went missing once. We left and came back and she was just gone.

On average how many people fall into the duck pond?

(laughs) I’d say about four people a year.

  • We adored interviewing Shannon! Her cheerful, knowledgeable, and delightful personality is yet another reason to visit AZ Hops & Vines.
  • CLICK HERE to read more about our own experiences at AZ Hops & Vines!


Our Colorful Stay at “The Saguaro Hotel”

In a nutshell:

  • Centralized location within walking distance of Old Town Scottsdale
  • A bit pricey for what you’re getting… but still worth it.
  • Met some people from Minnesota… or Colorado? They seemed confused in how to respond about their place of origin.
  • Where we ate: Cornish Pasty Co. & The Montauk

Lucy Agave:

Given the theme of our blog, I guess it is no surprise that the name of this hotel is what first caught our eye when we were planning our trip. But after arriving, it was obvious that the name of the place had nothing on the eye-catching plethora of color in their décor. The main buildings of the Saguaro Hotel are mostly white, but the accent walls are in every other color and the furniture ranges from hot pink sofas in the lobby to bright yellow chaise lounge chairs by the pool.

In décor alone, the entire hotel felt like a pick-me-up.

Fortunately, this was exactly what Sam and I had in mind for our overnight trip. See, normally Sam and I would be concerned with entertainment available “around the hotel” but this was one of those rare trips where we just wanted a unique hang out. After a particularly stressful beginning to the 2021 semester -thanks, COVID- we just needed a place to (safely) let our brains melt in peace. I’m sure our fellow teachers and stressed-out Monday-through-Friday workers in any field can empathize with that need.

So, Sam and I threw together our odd mix of “Scientific American” issues we hadn’t had time to read during the school year along with the latest trashy magazines and made our way for the pool.

The Saguaro Hotel boasts two separate pools to choose from. Sam and I settled down at the larger of the two. Eventually, Sam disappeared to the poolside bar to order us some beer. She came back with beer and water and a pursed lip at the price.

“We didn’t come to Scottsdale for how cheap everything was going to be,” I commented.  (See Sam’s footnotes below for her response.)

We didn’t have to get up from our lounge chairs for the next couple of hours… which was as relaxing an experience as that sounds. The staff stopped by occasionally to ask if we wanted another drink. The crowd at the pool was not overwhelming.  A particularly buzzed and talkative girl, named Brittney, meandered over to us eventually to make conversation. She was either “from Minnesota and living in Colorado” or “from Colorado and living in Minnesota”. Although Brittney had a lot to say about a lot, it was comforting for Sam and myself to talk with another couple of girlfriends who had also stumbled on this hotel in search of a place to relax.

Sam and I stayed at the pool for most of the afternoon until it was getting a bit cold (for us desert creatures anyway). We dolled up and walked to a nearby restaurant, the Cornish Pasty Co., a favorite of mine that Sam hadn’t tried before. Over the hearty pasties, Sam and I plotted our walk to Old Town Scottsdale.

Now, although there is a lot to be said about Old Town Scottsdale, I’d prefer to focus on two tangents that relate a little more to the experience surrounding our stay at the Saguaro Hotel. For one thing, as two girls walking alone in the evening, it is worth noting that the area we stayed in is particularly well-kept, well-lit, and safe. Sam and I comfortably walked a 2-mile loop visiting various shops in the area. Secondly, the foodie in me must comment on the variety of amazing options for food and drink surrounding the Saguaro Hotel that Sam and I could not have possibly sampled in just a two-day stay. All that said, the Saguaro Hotel is not just a great place to stay but a great place to come back to.


Sam’s notes:

I have a couple points to emphasize:

  • Number one: how expensive those beers at the pool were
  • Number two: how delicious Cornish Pasty Co. really is.

I knew Scottsdale would be an expensive spot to visit, but I was still shocked when I saw the receipt for our 4 measly little cans of beer.  (We’re talking normal sized cans, not those tall ones.)  The total -they automatically added gratuity- came to a little over $40.  I had that Tiger King meme moment… “I’m never going to financially recover from this.” 

Ok, yes… I’m being dramatic!  After the initial sticker shock I DID come to the conclusion that we had a great time at the pool and it was totally worth it in the end. But just a head’s up that it can get expensive.

Cornish Pasty Co… which I kept pronouncing wrong… it’s pah-sty not Pay-sty… is SO good.  I always thought Lucy was a little obsessed with it (she has been known to make 2 hour trips to Phoenix just to get their food) but I totally get it now.  It’s the most comforting comfort food you could ever imagine.  I would describe it as an adult, sophisticated hot pocket.  But a huge hot pocket with this really good flaky pastry dough on the outside and then packed with gourmet cooking on the inside (and they each come with their own type of dipping sauce).  If you haven’t tried it yet you need to!


Little Farm in the Big City: The Farm at South Mountain

In a nutshell:

  • Picturesque farm surprisingly close to the city (Phoenix)!
  • Family-friendly outing & breakfast spot
  • Green! Lush! Even better than a trip to the park.
  • What we ate: Pork Belly Tacos and the Chicken Enchiladas

Sam Saguaro:

What’s the best way to end a two-day vacation in Phoenix, AZ?  Visit The Farm at South Mountain for breakfast on the way out of town of course! 

 The restaurant located at The Farm is called Morning Glory Cafe (Lucy was quick to point out a dirty reference within the name).  It has a convenient location, near metro Phoenix and not far from I-10, which we took to return back to our homes in Tucson.  Added bonus, it’s outdoors, on tons of land (allowing for a safe, socially distanced dining experience).  

From the moment we stepped out of the car we were amazed that we were still in Phoenix, the 5th largest city in the U.S.  The farm, and all its beauty, stretched as far as the eye could see.  It felt like a reverse Wizard of Oz moment… “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Phoenix anymore. We must be on a farm in Kansas!”

We excitedly walked past the rows of picnic tables, and grand trees with string lights draped between them, to the line for ordering breakfast.  Morning Glory Cafe prides itself on using fresh, local farm ingredients that they grow themselves right there on site.  Lucy got the chicken enchiladas and I got the pork belly tacos.  They also offer coffees, smoothies and juices.  After one sip of Lucy’s fresh-squeezed orange juice I instantly felt like a healthier human being.

While we waited for our food to be prepared we hit the bathroom.  I only mention this because they were nice (like strangely nice) bathrooms for a farm.  They were located in a little building with 4 doors, even the outside of the doors looked like they had just been renovated and painted and you were about to enter someone’s cute little house.  (The inside was just as nice, seriously, you have to check out the bathrooms if you go.  10 out of 10.  Would recommend.)  

We only waited about 10 minutes until our breakfast was ready.  The food was delicious… savory and comforting with a Southwest flair.  Both of us were impressed with the fresh touches of locally grown bell peppers, cabbage, cilantro, onion, and lime.  

Once finished we decided to explore the rest of the farm, and there was a lot of exploring to be done.  We wandered through the “stone grove”, beautiful walls and a fireplace built of stone that you can just imagine a bride and groom reciting their vows in front of.  We walked past vibrant, growing rows of crops.  A huge (and adorable) chalkboard sign boasted what fruits and vegetables were currently being grown at The Farm.  We visited the resident birds… ducks bathing in kiddie-pools and chickens roaming around a large coup.  We even met one, very vocal, turkey.

It was evident that The Farm at South Mountain is an ideal spot for families and children.  We saw many examples of this… kids running free and enjoying the great weather, the space, the nature that surrounded them.  One boy had a perfect imitation of the aforementioned turkey’s call (it even fooled me a couple times, it was impressive).

If you’re a fan of cute photo op’s The Farm is a place you’ll want to check out!  Stone walls, random couches with cute pillows, symmetrical rows of crops, vine covered picnic gazebos, rustic trucks with flowers in the bed… you name it, we took a picture with it.  No shame!  At one point we were trying to get a good picture, but the sun was shining in our face causing us to squint… a few seconds later a cloud moved in front of the sun allowing us to get the shot.  Pure kismet!  (I’m stealing that word from Lucy, she introduced it to my vocabulary).  

We climbed back into our car, feeling relaxed, content, and sure that we had chosen the perfect ending to our Phoenix trip.  On our way out we noticed a sign saying that no outside food/drink was permitted at The Farm.  We discussed how this does seem like a shame (because damn, it would be the PERFECT spot to bring a picnic) but we understood how they would want to be making money off their own restaurant (and it was well worth the money).

If you live in/near the Phoenix area (or are visiting) do yourself a favor and check out The Farm at South Mountain and their restaurant Morning Glory Cafe… you won’t be disappointed.  It’s a naturally peaceful farm retreat that will relieve you from the hustle and bustle of city life and leave your soul soothed.

Lucy’s notes:

  • I can totally relate to Sam’s this-isn’t-Phoenix moment upon visiting the farm. It’s honestly hard to believe it took us so little time to drive to this place (from inner city phoenix). The place made you feel transported.
  • The farm occasionally hosts special events and classes. Sam and I haven’t tried those (yet!) but it’s probably something worth looking into.
  • When visiting, parents should really encourage their kids to perfect their turkey gobble imitations… It was clearly an entertaining way to spend the time!