As much as I love to drink good wine, there are just some places where it’s almost impossible to drink it: the top of mountains, for example, or in the middle of roaring rapids in the Colorado River. These are places that require a great deal of walking and careful packing, and even then, bottles can (and will) break. When this happens 20 miles from anywhere in the middle of a three-day hike along the Arizona Trail leaving you with no booze whatsoever, it can ruin your weekend. I’ve had to settle for beer for those treks (sorry Gary, love you Gary) or worse, no booze at all. Thank (God/Cthuhlu/Science) that the crack team at Grand Canyon Winery have been working around the clock to arrive at a solution to this most troubling issue for all of us. Following in the steps of wineries such as Underwood in Oregon, and Field Recordings in Paso Robles, they have come to a novel solution: Let’s put some of our wines in a can. So I took a hike along the Woodchute Mountain trail in the mountains above my home in Jerome with a can of the Wayfarer, to finish out the summer of rosé here at The Noise.
The Wayfarer is a blended rosé, and was aged in stainless steel prior to being canned. The blend is 100% Arizona fruit, consisting of 61% Chenin Blanc and 14% French Colombard, coming from Fort Bowie, along with 18% Malvasia Bianca coming from Al Buhl memorial vineyard. The color comes from the 7% Merlot obtained from Bonita Springs. Designed to suit the palates of the sweet wine drinkers in their tasting room, this rosé also has 1% residual sugar. The Wayfarer was made at the ASV facility, by their team of talented winemakers.
When poured into a glass, this wine is a lovely coral pink in color.The aromatic characteristics of the blend (or something similar) are pretty intense and intriguing. The Wayfarer is among the most intensely aromatic rosé wines I’ve encountered so far in Arizona. The Malvasia in this blend makes itself quite obvious by imparting notes of elderflower, lychee, and honeydew melon. Harder to parse through and determine origins, the other grapes impart rich sensations of cranberry, watermelon, crisp pears, and grapefruit. There are also slight hints of vanilla, iris, and fresh-picked roses. (They don’t show up nearly as well if you try to smell it in the can, though: I tried and embarrassed myself in the middle of nowhere, so you don’t have to.)
The palate of this wine is also a mesh of different varietal characteristics. Malvasia again shows itself though notes of lychee, while the Chenin Blanc in this blend emerges through notes of apricots and crisp apples. There are also notes of creamy raspberry, strawberry, and watermelon intermingling with that slight bit of sweetness, which plays well with the acidity and that dusty Willcox minerality on the tongue, creating a cascading finish that lasts for about twenty seconds. This wine leaves you feeling more refreshed than you would had you imbibed fresh water from a mountain spring.
I feel this wine is best paired with a nice summer’s jaunt in the pine forests in Northern Arizona. No need to bother with food – it was refreshing enough on its own. The Wayfarer is a great hiking wine. Admittedly, I did not think to test how it pairs with trail mix—I leave that to you! I was too busy enjoying myself. If The Wayfarer was a person, she’d be an exuberant and down-to-earth trail runner with a mild penchant for geology, and prone to joyous laughter.
You can find their canned rose, along with their canned white and red blends (both called The Traveler) at the Grand Canyon Wine Company’s tasting room on the main drag in Williams, Arizona, or at their tap and bottle room located just south of the tracks in Flagstaff, where the old strip club used to be. (I really like what they’ve done with the place.) 130 cases were produced, so grab your four-pack at either site for some easily-transportable vino for all your epic outdoor adventure needs.
–Cody V. Burkett is far more fond of canned wine than strippers (which is a sentence he never thought he would ever write.) Want to follow the harvest this year? Follow The Wine Monk on Facebook.