Traveling the Desert Highway: Destination Alcantara Vineyards and Winery

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Arid, dry, and barren are some of the ideas that come to mind when you think of the desert.   As you drive through Cottonwood for the very first time nothing spectacular seems to catch your eye.   It is not the beauty of the red rock mountains of somewhere like Sedona.  Yet, it is not the barren landscape of somewhere like 29 Palms either.  It’s somewhat in between and its here just outside of Cottonwood you will find, a little Italian or Spanish inspired Villa which is home to Alcantara Vineyards and Winery.  A picturesque, piece of artistry in an otherwise barren, desert area.

A dirt road to wine

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Situated in what is know as the Verde Valley this little gem of a winery is at the confluence of two rivers the Verde and the Oak Creek.  Not far from the popular, trendy, and incredibly beautiful Sedona.   Alcantara is one of the largest vineyards in Central and Northern Arizona. Very unassuming, with a laid back style, and with wine that is every bit as surprising as the area it is grown in.  I once heard that wine must suffer on the vine to be good and I am guessing that in 100 degree temperatures it is doing some suffering.

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It is the brain child of Barbara Predmore the owner, she states “the rocky limestone soil and sunny climate in the Verde Valley is very similar to the wine making regions of France and Italy and after two years of experimentation the results are everything we hoped for and then some.”  I can only imagine she is only talking soil as temps here can be well over 100 plus degrees in the summer.  She does back up her statement though with some wonderful wines.  Some of Alcantara wines are medal winners and from my own pleasant experience very good.

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Now, I am not a wine connoisseur or professional of any sort.  I just enjoy a good wine and I have to say I enjoyed the 2013 Petite Sirah.  It contains notes of black  currants, blackberries, black  pepper, and leather it is a Silver Medal  Winner at  the  Fingerlakes  International Wine  Competition.

Alcantara is not the only winery in the area but the only one we had a chance to stop in that afternoon.  We were greeted by a nice woman Kerry who explained how everything worked.  They do have a tasting fee but you are allowed to take home a glass unfortunately empty.  For 15.00 you are presented with your stem styled wine glass and a tasting of 5 of their wines.  You are able to choose your preference.  I am not much of a white wine drinker so I made my choice from the reds.  I also ordered an nicely presented appetizer plate of cheeses, breads, and olives.  A perfect snack before an afternoon lunch we were having in Sedona.

Travel with T

When we arrived at around one we were the only people there.  When we left close to 3 the place was starting to fill up.  If you have a chance to pop in on your way the Sedona it is a perfect break from your Phoenix drive.  A pleasant afternoon day trip or if you have some time you can do the wine trail.  I hope to be going back soon, perhaps I will see you.  As always the Destination is part of the discovery and it’s always better with wine.

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Treasure in the Desert: Destination Chapel of the Holy Cross

I left the Chapel of the Holy Cross with a sense of peace but also with a beautiful reflection of the many people that came each finding beauty in the Catholic faith through Art. It reminded me of a quote from St. Francis “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.”

Holy Cross Church

Jutting out from the Red Rock Buttes of Sedona is the epitome of architectural genius. Many try and achieve this stunning crown but few will master what sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude inspired with the help of Richard Hein and August K Strotz in 1956.

Commissioned over a half a century ago it’s hard to imagine this awe inspiring contemporary design style came out of that period.

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The approach is designed in a way that you spiral up from around base.   This creates an awareness of the forms of the site and building.  It appears everything is done to achieve the tranquility of the area.

Marguerite described her commission as “Through the Catholic in faith, as a work of art the chapel has a universal appeal. It’s doors will ever be open to one and all, regardless of creed, that God may come to life in the souls of all men and be a living reality.”  It is truly not hard to see God in this place

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As I toured I was inspired that people from all over the world, and of all faiths came to see this incredible witness to some of the beauty within Catholicism.  Built on solid rock it not only is beautiful but it figuratively ties to the Catholic faith.  The giant cross within the structure stands out across the lower valley as a symbol of faith and beauty and it inspires awe in our Creator.

The Chapel holds no regular services as it once did and now it is intended to be a place of reflection and meditation. The sign upon entering simply states “Peace to all who enter”.

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Upon entering you are presented with a simplistic design style.   It has some pews and unique artwork but really nothing competing with the architectural element meant to inspire peace. Truly you can see the inspiration she had of “Finding God through Art”.

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St. Michael

There was some debate over the Corpus that originally was hung in the chapel but that is a tale for another time. It has been replaced with the face of Christ a somewhat subtle but thought provoking piece appropriately placed above the tabernacle.

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I left the Chapel of the Holy Cross with a sense of peace but also with a beautiful reflection of the many people that came each finding beauty in the Catholic faith through Art.  It reminded me of a quote from St. Francis “Preach the Gospel always.  If necessary, use words.”

Lighting a candle across the world for "B"
Lighting a candle across the world for “B”