Yes, the Great Arizona Grape Stomp is a barrel of fun. No, it does not take place in a barrel of grapes. It is a Fun Run of 5 K through the grape vineyards of Elgin and Sonoita, AZ. Many just enjoy walking the distance, enjoying the fresh air and the scenery. Just an hours drive from Tucson, it’s a journey through mountains, grasslands, and history.
October 22, the third Grape Stomp run will take place in the vineyards of Elgin, Arizona. Registration will open at 7am at Callaghan Vineyards or on line. A complimentary shuttle service takes runners to the starting line. The race begins at 8:00AM. The cost is $35.00 to aid the Arizona Winegrowers Association.
The Grape Stomp begins at the Sonoita Hills Community Church at 52 Elgin Rd, and takes runners through Rancho Rossa’s vineyard back onto scenic Elgin Rd. The finish line is at Callaghan Vineyards where runners can enjoy refreshments, beverages and the awards ceremony.
Each runner will receive a running tote bag which will contain a t-shirt, and a wine glass. Wine glasses can be used at all of the local wineries for a discount on tastings. Runners may pick up their race materials on Friday, prior to the 5k, at Dos Cabezas Wine Works between 12pm-4pm.
The Sonoita/Elgin 5K, the third in a series of Great Arizona Grape Stomp runs, offers a fun way to travel through some Arizona history. Geologically, Arizona’s vineyards and wineries are located in the high desert which results in temperatures 10 to 20 degrees cooler than Tucson.
Following Highway 83 to Sonoita, you pass through mountains where Cochise and Geronimo roamed. Not far from here, Mickey Free was captured and raised by the White Mountain Apache of San Carlos. Some believe his capture precipitated the Apache Wars of the 1860s.
The next settlers were cattlemen and miners, the CCC, the Hart, and Larrimore measured their land “from this mountain to that river.” All that remains of the big ranches is the Empire Ranch Historical site, which you pass along the way. The silver in Tombstone brought miners to Greaterville and Patagonia. Greaterville is now a ghost town, and Patagonia a tourist town.
During the early 1900’s the area was opened to Desert Claims, and farmers got free land for proving up. Many of these farmers then sold out to the big ranches, or one combined several homesteads into a ranche. The remains of old adobe houses remain. 1916 -19, General Pershing was chasing Pancho Villa through the area. After a rain, his regimental cannon bogged down in the marshy area east of Hwy 83 at Gardner Canyon. With the advent of cars, Sonoita got a gas station. (see photo)
In the late 1970s, wineries developed, and the area became labeled, “Wine Country.” Arizona wines have been served at the White House, and are becoming well recognized.
Elgin is the site of the classic John Wayne movie, Red River. The cattle drive takes place around the Mustang Mountains. The hotel is “Ma” Barnett’s house – formerly the railroad train station. The train no longer runs through Elgin to Patagonia silver mines, but the house is still there. The clubhouse, where daily screenings were shown, still sits atop the hill.
Oklahoma is another classic filmed in the Elgin area and using the train. However, the corn, that ‘grows as high as an elephant’s eye’ had to be dug up from farms along the Nogales Highway and transplanted there expressly for the movie.
So gather up the kids for an outdoor excursion to improve learning. Talk about the geology and the history of the area. Rent the classic movies, a piece of history in themselves. Get them interested in reading about Arizona mining towns, cowboys, apaches, and General Pershing and Pancho Villa.