Making a pilgrimage to Jerome has been on my to do list since my first Caduceus purchases, and especially since seeing Blood Into Wine. It was upon receiving my first shipment from the Velvet Slippers Club that I realized that I could make it happen.
My interest in Maynard’s wine endeavor goes beyond my fandom of his music and love for wine. I have wine aspirations of my own. My family’s business- though very successful- has never been my thing. But the small Texas town that we live in has bloomed into a wine region; one that faces many of the same issues that Arizona winemakers do. Several years ago, my parents brought up the idea of turning some of our land into vineyards. This was an entrepreneurial endeavor of theirs I could buy into. I don’t consider myself a wine connoisseur, but I am definitely a fan. Thus, I was able to leverage this in getting my dad to make the two hour trek up to Jerome with me after our Roger Waters concert in Phoenix.
We’re driving down the highway listening to Keith Richards’ Life audiobook. I’m zoning out a bit on the desert landscapes, thinking about the three A Perfect Circle shows I recently attended in LA. As we increasingly get to the middle of nowhere, I start to worry that my dad is not going to have much fun here. I contemplate letting him listen to some Tool, or APC, or Puscifer…and decide against it.
As soon as we started heading up the mountain that Jerome sits on the side of, I knew the trip was going to be worthwhile. The road starts to wind around, revealing buildings that seem old and full of stories, containing businesses that range from new age-y / hippie to tourist trap to historical and mysterious. In our eyes, it looks very European, like the small villages nestled in the Southern Alps in Northern Italy. And then we notice the snow on the ground.
It’s noon on a Sunday as we get out in the freezing cold to roam Jerome. We happen to run into the Caduceus Cellars Tasting Room right away, and all considerations for the early time went out the window once we thought about drinking wine making us warmer. Living in the Bay Area and visiting Napa, Sonoma, and Soquel often has made me quite familiar with tasting rooms, and I’d have to say this is one of the nicer ones I’ve been to. I was expecting a darker, funkier vibe to it, but it was clear that, despite being fully stocked with merchandise, the intentions of this place are for it to be taken seriously.
We select our tasting and settle in and enjoy the wine as a steady stream of people start to arrive after us. The visitors run the gamut of obsessive fans to innocent bystanders who think this is ‘just another tasting room’. They offer cheeses and were even making crepes that day. We chatted with the two pourers behind the counter- one of whom runs the wine club. She gave us a little background on the town and they both provided tips on other places to visit. I have to say the whole experience made me jealous that in a town a tiny fraction of the size of mine (and mine is small), there seems to be a cool alternative community. All that exist in my town are old people and cowboys.
After the tasting, we enjoyed a glass of Sensei, my favorite of the wines I’ve dared open from my collection. It’s one of their nicer wines, and is being discontinued. I ended up going home with a bottle of that, as well as Anubis…which was a big part of why I made the trek. My cat is named Anubis, and it’s a wine you can generally only purchase there.
It was nearing 2p when we left, and I was slightly tipsy, running from one store to the next in the freezing cold. We went up to the Puscifer store, which I didn’t even try to explain to my dad. It amazes me that there can be an entire store dedicated to Puscifer that is open on a Sunday….but I have to say it is pretty cool.
We finished the visit by having lunch at Asylum Restaurant, which used to actually be an asylum. It had a definite The Shining vibe to it.
I highly recommend making the trek(ka) to Jerome. Beyond Caduceus and the Puscifer store, it’s a cool old copper mining town with picturesque views and lots of history.