HHave you heard the one about the African elephant, squirrel monkey, giraffe, flamingo, white rhino and anteater walking into a bar? A wild time has been passed by all.
But in this case, premium wine is the basis of the festivities, and whenever the love of animals and passion for wine intersect, Rancho Rossa Vineyards always seems to be at the heart of the story.
This winery located about 80 km southeast of Tucson has supported animal welfare and rescue programs since they planted their first vines in 2002. As the 20th anniversary approaches this historic moment in history Arizona winemaker, they released a special wine that pays homage to six of the more than 250 animals that reside at the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson. And in collaboration with Rescued Hearts Cellars, their sister non-profit organization, Rancho Rossa Vineyards will donate 100% of the proceeds from the sale of bottles to the zoo.
“Wine of the Wild” is a Bordeaux-style red blend made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that was grown on site on the winery’s 24-acre estate in the Elgin-Sonoita wine region. Each of the more than 1,500 bottles produced features one of the six animals that inhabit our local zoo, with a matching color and creative design on the label to make it unique.
In evaluating which styles of wine would suit their philanthropy, estate owner Breanna Hamilton knew right away that some of the five grape varieties that define the iconic Bordeaux region should be in these bottles.
“We really love Bordeaux wines and we grow Bordeaux grapes, and this is the style of wine that our fans love the most,” said Hamilton. “We blend Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot every year, sometimes adding other Bordeaux grape varieties such as Petit Verdot and Malbec, and our goal is always to produce beautiful, well-balanced blends.
The six animals selected for the Wine of Wild series are the African elephant, squirrel monkey, giraffe, flamingo, white rhino and anteater. While many people have purchased all six bottles in the series as a collector’s set – I mean, right? – the one that has sold the most so far is the African elephant.
“Everyone loves big animals, especially kids who think they’re out of this world,” she said. “Elephants are big, cool, fun and funny, with great personalities.”
While the elephant is currently the best seller, Hamilton’s personal favorite is the rhino which represents the one at the Reid Park Zoo that she calls “a big puppy.”
“Here you have this huge scary animal that loves to be rubbed and just wants to be loved,” she said.
Hamilton’s winemaker husband Chris would relate best to the squirrel monkey, a testimony that did not surprise her as “he’s a bit of a monkey himself,” she revealed.
Bottles of Wine of the Wild cost $ 25 each and can be purchased at the Rancho Rossa Vineyards tasting room at 201 Cattle Ranch Lane in Elgin. They can also be ordered online at RanchoRossa.com/shop.
Wine samples will also be donated to the ZOOcson, a gala evening at the Reid Park Zoo on Friday October 8, featuring cuisine from local restaurants, samples of local wine, beer and spirits, auctions, presentations from animal ambassadors and live music. Tickets can be purchased at ReidParkZoo.org/event.
As I walk around on the wild side, I think my Wine of the Wild choice would be the Anteater. Ants can ruin a backyard party, and I have a reputation to uphold.
Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at [email protected] Russell is also the editor of OnTheMenuLive.com as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030 AM.