Gallery: The Adventure of A Parents-Only Weekend Getaway Wine Tasting Camping Road Trip

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Sonoita Vinyards wine tasting with hibiscus flower in the wine

The other night we ate dinner across from a theater and saw an ad for the movie Madagascar 3, and for a strange singular moment I was thrilled. And then I couldn't believe it, couldn't believe how I'm changing. That's why, among dozens of other reasons, a parents' weekend away is such a good thing.

So, for three nearly full days, we road tripped around the deserts and ranch lands of southern Arizona, camped in an enchanting mesquite grove in the Santa Rita Mountains, and then toured a half-dozen wineries of Sonoita Valley. By the second winery we visited, Sonoita Vineyards, I was getting warmed up to things. We were taking our time, striking up conversations with our friends that were interrupted only by the following pour. Meredith, my sister-in-law, declared we challenge ourselves by trying to describe what we taste without looking at the menu.

That's when it got interesting. Jeff poured us a sample of a white, and asked us to sip. "Now I'll give you a surprise." He pulled out a plate with small fresh hibiscus flowers, took a pair of tongs in his hand and dropped a bloom into each of our glasses. "Let that sit for a moment, then test it. When you're done, go ahead and eat the flower." Tried we did, eat we did. The hibiscus seeps its color and flavor into the wine on the spot, and adds what we think was a touch of citrus. Maybe more. But it almost doesn't matter. We were enjoying the experience for the sake of learning as much as we could about how and why wine is made.

Later that night at camp, six miles and some change into the mountains, each of our friends cracked open a bottle from the stashes they'd purchased earlier in the day. With knee-high campfire flames, and my wife's fresh guacamole all mixed and served for an appetizer, once again the conversations got going. We started talking about our kids.

"My son, I love him so much, but you know that little turd did last week?" someone spoke up.

"Stop, stop. Wait right there."


"This weekend is adults only. You don't have to preface anything you say about your kids with 'I love them but'."

Someone else chimed in, "Yeah, it's a given. Just let it fly, no qualifiers."

"In fact that's a new rule. Put a dollar in the bucket, and let this be a lesson to everyone else here."


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