Sip & Sample

It may be a surprise to some that the desert not only can produce grapes, but some vines truly thrive in the intense heat. Just a quick trip from Laughlin, Kingman, Arizona, is home to a few vineyards and wineries, each producing unique desert blends that stand up to their counterparts across the globe.

Along with these fabulous winemakers, artisans of a different spirit also have chosen to craft rum, vodka, whiskey and beer in Kingman, making it a drinking destination.

It’s likely visitors will get a little tipsy tasting their way through town. Drink and don’t worry about the drive when you book a Desert Wonder wine tasting, brewery or distillery tour.

Robert Walton is a longtime Kingman local who started Desert Wonder Tours in 2017 to share his wealth of knowledge on the area with visitors and provide them with exciting, yet safe tours exploring his hometown and beyond.

Walton grew up exploring the area himself, and his expertise and historic information is an added bonus of the adventures he has carefully curated for guests to highlight the most interesting and unique spots around.

Even locals will learn something new on his tours and get to sit back and relax while they visit that one spot they’ve been meaning to go to for years, but never had the chance. Desert Wonder Tours provides that opportunity from the comfort of an air-conditioned, sanitized passenger van.

There are two versions of the wine tasting tour available to suit your needs. First is the Scenic Desert Wine Tasting/Brewery Samples & Lunch Tour. This tour is available daily with pickup from the guest’s location in Laughlin, Bullhead City or Lake Havasu at 8 a.m. Guests in Kingman will be picked up at 9 a.m. and those booking from Las Vegas will be picked up at 7 a.m.

The tour begins at the Powerhouse Visitor Center, where guests will tour the Route 66 and Electric Vehicle Museums. After a short visit there, the tour travels to the Valle Vista district of Kingman to the first vineyard, Little Old Wine Drinkers Winery. This is the newest spot on “winery row” opened by Steven and Susan Pedroza in 2018. They offer six different wines to taste, including a Pinot Grigio, Grape-Strawberry Wine, Tempranillo, Zin Rosé, Heritage Red Blend and Cabernet Franc.

It all started with Steven’s quest to make the best Pinot Grigio, and he delivered with a light, delectable wine.

“People in the Pinot Grigio business from South Africa and Italy came to visit me one day,” Pedroza said. “They said, ‘Steven, we’ve had Pinot Grigio all over the world and yours is in the top five in the world.’ It’s not real dry like most Pinot Grigios. We make refreshing wines.”

One of the most popular bottles of his collection is the Grape-Strawberry wine, which also goes by the name “Clothing Optional.”

“This is our sittin’ by the pool wine, our hot tub wine, this is down at the river, at the beach, on the lake, on the back of the boat wine,” Pedroza said. “We made the white merlot and I thought, ‘let’s kick it up a bit.’ So we added some natural strawberry concentrate and it really accents the wine.”

Sweet, light and delicious, it’s no surprise this is a popular one among the ladies and it’s perfect for summer.

Little Old Wine Drinkers hosts Sunset Saturday nights, where the public can bring snacks or food to grill on the barbecue out back and enjoy a glass of wine on the patio while watching the sun go down.

The winery is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Sunday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday. Call 702-835-3628 to set up an appointment to visit at another day or time.

The next stop is just down the road at Stetson Winery and Event Center. Don and Jo Stetson opened their doors in November 2012, providing a spot off the beaten path for friends and family to share quality time. The winery can be spotted by the big red barn, an impressive steel structure where the Stetsons host wine tastings, weddings and special events.

Stetson offers eight different wines, including the Silver Spur white table wine, Root 66 red table wine, Peacemaker Petit Verdot, Unbridled Zinfandel, Cultured Cowgirl Cabernet Franc, Hop in the Cab Darlin’ Cabernet, Cactus Flower red table wine and State 48 red blend. The last is their premier “Bordeaux style” wine.

“This blend of reds is very special,” Stetson said. “It is medium to full bodied, with aromas of black currant and plum. The palate is rich and soft and is full of black and red fruits.”

The Stetson’s host a Sunday afternoon get together with live music from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. from local bands that play everything from jazz to rock and country. Guests are welcome to come enjoy a glass or two, and bring their own snacks.

The winery is open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. Call 928-757-7206 for an appointment any other day.

The final stop on the tour is at Black Bridge Brewery, downtown on Beale Street, for beer sampling and lunch. They offer a plethora of craft brews from 4.8%-9.5% alcohol. Appropriately named, Wicked Poison is at the top of that average, and is truly a unique brew. Sample a few selections, like the fruity Belgian ale, Monk-E Business, or the peppery rye pale ale, Ryetiousness.

While tasting the beer, guests will put in a lunch order from Siren’s Café next door, which serves up all kinds of fresh sandwiches.

After lunch, Desert Wonder Tours will deliver guests safely back to their home or hotel.

The second version of the tour is called Wine Tasting/World Shopping/Distillery & Lunch Tour. This variation is available Thursday-Monday with pickup from the guest’s location in Laughlin, Bullhead City or Lake Havasu at 9 a.m. Guests in Kingman will be picked up at 9 a.m. and those booking from Las Vegas will be picked up at 7 a.m.

The museums are not included in this tour. Instead, guests will be treated to a world shopping experience at the Import Corner after visiting Little Old Wine Drinkers and Stetson Winery.

Jaws drop when walking into the Import Corner. Immediately guests are amazed by the gigantic showroom filled with gorgeous Turkish mosaic lamps, handmade ceramics, rugs, home and garden décor. They offer more than 6,000 products from 35 different countries.

Each year, the store closes for a month while owner Cengiz Arik travels to buy more products for his store. This year, the store will close from July 24-Sept. 1, and this tour option will not be available during that time.

Regularly the store hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. It is located at 9000 E. Government Way in Kingman.

After shopping, guests will be transported to nearby Desert Diamond Distillery, known for its award-winning Gold Miner spirits. John and Deb Patt began production in 2009, which makes it Arizona’s oldest craft distillery. They are open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, Sunday and Monday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Saturday and closed Tuesday-Wednesday.

Guests will get to see how craft spirits are made by taking a tour with John in the production and barrel rooms. Then, taste their light, dark, barrel reserve or agave rums, vodka, wheat or corn whiskey, or the corn liquor moonshine.

The agave is one of the distillery’s bestsellers, which is no surprise after tasting a sip. Patt adds real agave nector and a few other natural flavors on top of the dark rum and the sweet honey-like flavor stands out, making it a real treat.

After the tasting, guests will be served lunch and then transported back to their pickup location.

Both variations are a wonderful daytrip from Laughlin for 21 and over guests. Visit desertwondertours.com to book this tour and browse the other offerings to the Grand Canyon, London Bridge, Oatman, Keepers of the Wild animal sanctuary and more.