One of Southern Arizona’s farthest-flung boutique wineries plans to open a tasting room in Tucson.
Sierra Bonita Vineyards, located in Graham County more than 20 miles outside of Willcox, hopes to open its tasting room in November in an office building it owns at 6720 E. Camino Principal, near the Tucson Country Club.
The tasting room will take up 434 square feet of space adjacent to the law offices of Sierra Bonita owners Gerald and John Smith — father and son, respectively — who have practiced law in Tucson for four years. Gerald Smith was a bankruptcy lawyer in Phoenix for 50 years before relocating to Tucson to be closer to the farm.
Sierra Bonita has been a family affair since Jane and Gerald Smith bought the farm and vineyard in the mid-1980s. The family planted its first vines in 1996 and released its first vintages — 150 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and 120 cases of Syrah — in 2011.
“Everybody has a day job, so we keep the wine in the barrel at least 18 months,” Jane Smith said last week from the vineyard, where she was overseeing the red grape harvest. “The wine is yummy. We’re having fun.”
Until now, the family has sold its wines through the vineyard, at a few Phoenix-area restaurants and shops, and at Tucson’s Feast restaurant.
Opening a tasting room “would be a chance to market our wine” more widely, Jane Smith said. “When your vineyard is 22 miles north of Willcox, we don’t have a lot of traffic out there,” added John Smith. “We figured what the heck, let’s try a tasting room.”