Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Now that Corey's dad is safely back at home, and I have successfully caught the laundry up from ignoring it all weekend long, I can finally sit down and share with you one of the best Fun Dollars experiences to date.

Corey and I have enjoyed living in the burgeoning wine country of Northern Arizona. When we first moved here seven years ago, there were only three or four vineyards in the area. Now, there are vineyards and tasting rooms dotting the area, with growth happening on a yearly basis. Existing vineyards have expanded their acreage. Tasting room employees have spawned their own lines of wine. Local blends and varietals are more available than ever with the help of local bars and bistros that have cropped up in the wake. Suffice it to say, if you want to feel like you're spending the weekend in Tuscany, you can, by just driving down the road.

And that's exactly what we did on Saturday afternoon. We packed up the kids (yes, we even took the kids), we packed some snacks, and we headed out to a vineyard that I had yet to visit: Alcantara. Normally, I am a Page Springs Cellars girl, but Corey had helped to host several events at this newer vineyard, and I was curious to try their wines and see their estate. Since Grandpa Tim was visiting, we figured it would be a great chance to experience this place together.

After driving to Cottonwood, and turning east on 260, we drove a few miles out of town before turning north on a dirt road. The bumpy gravel lead us down toward the Verde River. As we passed over a second cattle guard, the facade of a Tuscan-style villa came into view. (The owner of the vineyard used to live in the house.) With the front door open, and the sound of laughter coming from inside, I immediately felt a sense of welcome.

The inside tasting room was situated around the kitchen. Warm wooden cabinets and granite counter tops looked as if a little Italian grandmother would come out with a rolling pin and start making pasta. Several dining tables and a few bistro tables were situated in the generously proportioned dining room and kitchenette area. We walked out the back door to the multi-leveled deck, where the live-entertainer was strumming his guitar. We chose a secluded patio table overlooking the back yard and made camp.

The grassy back yard was dotted with cafe tables, each with its own umbrella. The kids ran around, playing with the cats who live on the premises. Corey, Grandpa Tim and I each took turns corralling the kids if they ran too far, but for the most part, we were able to just sit, relax and sip wine while keeping an eye on them.

After enjoying the Merlot and their estate blend, "Confluence", we took our party down to the creek. The menfolk brought fishing poles and tackle to while away the hours outside. The kids ran around in the tall grasses by the creek, collecting rocks, playing with the night crawlers, and digging in the dirt. I sat on the rocky ground and continued my relaxing existence without a care in the world. Overhead, the steely gray clouds promised to bring cooler weather, if not rain later on, but for the time being, we were blessed with nothing more than a chilly autumn wind.

At the confluence of Oak Creek and the Verde River, the Sheridans enjoyed an intimate setting for some quality family time. Playing outside, sipping delicious, local wine, and feeling the change of seasons with people I love was the best use of Fun Dollars I have experienced in many moons.

My Donation to the afternoon at Alcantara- $20.00
Balance this pay cycle- $54.00
Happy Spending!

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