Driving down Lower Elgin Road in Sonoita the other day, I noticed Autumn Sage Vineyards for the first time, despite passing it frequently. For some reason, the sign and white picket fence lining the hilly vineyard finally arrested my attention.
It’s always exciting to write about a new vineyard, especially when it’s in my neighborhood. Autumn Sage is the brainchild of Steve Basila, who got to know our state intimately via his 40-year career as a developer and road builder, and his wife, Nancy. Based in the Valley, the Basilas settled on a second home in Sonoita due to the climate. They’d always enjoyed the conviviality of wine culture, so it became a “when in Rome” thing.
The Basilas performed their due diligence. A local by the name of Eddie O’Brien suggested they hire viticulturist Michael Dupont, formerly of Arizona Hops and Vines and Sonoita Vineyards, to help them establish the vineyard. They also enlisted local pioneer Kent Callaghan to select the varietals – Old World styles like Albariño, Aglianico and Malvasia Bianca – and reached out to winemaker James Callahan of Rune to craft the juice.
The vineyard yielded its first grapes two seasons ago, and Callahan made a rosé with its estate fruit. The light-hued 2018 Golden Hummingbird Rosé ($25) is composed of both Sagrantino and Counoise, and is citrusy, dry and thirst-quenching. A more complete picture will emerge when their reds drop next year, but a visit to their property is definitely worth the price of admission: great vistas and a pond with gazebo decorate this new addition to Lower Elgin Road.
Autumn Sage Vineyards
90 Elgin Rd., Elgin