Bear Track Bistro and Winery is launching a wine festival this weekend featuring wines from Arizona and New Mexico.
"This is kind of our grand opening," said Rick Riddle, who opened the bistro and winery on Dec. 22.
"It's my way of introducing us to the area and also to let people know that they don't necessarily have to drive to Sonoita or Willcox to purchase their favorite wines. I'll be carrying many of them here in our tasting room."
The festival will be an opportunity to sample wines from 12 Arizona wineries, along with two from New Mexico and one from California (that's moving to Arizona). Some of the winemakers will attend.
There will also be a selection of food trucks, including The Twisted Tandoor and Miami Spice & Sauce.
Riddle expects anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 people to turn out for the festival, which will be held outside of the bistro and tasting room.
He was happy with the weekend forecast, which calls for highs in the low to mid 80s.
"That's perfect," he said.
Bear Track features a variety of wines that are not widely distributed, such as Zapara and Flying Leap, relatively new wineries from the Willcox area.
Wines at Bear Track range from $15 to $90. Tastings are $10 for a flight of four wines.
"Wines that are well received at the festival and not widely distributed we will sell in the tasting room" after the festival, he said.
Riddle used to own the Noisy Water Winery in Ruidoso, N.M., which he sold to his son. His shop features about six Noisy Water wines, and more will be available at the festival, he said.
Riddle still makes wine in New Mexico, which he sells with the private Bear Track Winery label.
His move to Tucson last year to open Bear Track was a homecoming of sorts.
Riddle, 63, is a Palo Verde High School grad who went on to play golf for the University of Arizona and turned pro his senior year.
Riddle continues to make improvements to Bear Track, which also serves Mediterranean tapas-style fare.
He recently opened an outside patio, and plans to start wine education courses later this month.
The first one will start May 19 and cost $90, which includes three classes, and will allow participants to blend their own bottle of wine in the last class, he said.
Another, Chip and Sip, is a series for women that costs $200 and includes three golf lessons and three wine classes.
If you go
Festival in the Foothills
• When: 5-10 p.m. Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Northeast corner of Swan and Sunrise. Bear Track Bistro and Winery is at 4743 E. Sunrise Drive.
• Admission: $25 in advance; $30 at the gate. Includes festival glass, eight wine tastings and one food voucher. A portion of bottle sales and admission proceeds will go to The Optimist Club and The Humane Society of Southern Arizona.