Todd and Kelly Bostock, winemakers and co-owners of Dos Cabezas WineWorks, live deep in Arizona wine country, in a tiny corner of the small town of Elgin. Their property is adjacent to an old cemetery, a relic left over from when the Southern Pacific Railroad traveled through town, and a few rusting automobiles that dot the rolling hillside. It's a quaint place, and the bustling home base for the growing Arizona wine industry.
The Bostocks' house was originally built in 1890 and is one of Elgin's original homesteads. At one point, the home had dirt floors, and Todd Bostock says two burros once lived on the property and used to come in and out of the house at their leisure.
When the Bostocks bought the home in 2008, the house was flanked by enormous cottonwood trees, some with trunks nearly eight feet in diameter. A redwood barn sat adjacent to the house.
"We converted the barn — it was beautiful, a 100 year-old redwood barn — into a chicken coop and greenhouse," Todd says.
The barn and trees were lost to a fire. The house, which survived, was constructed of stone with lofted, wood-beamed ceilings, and the concrete floor, which had been dropped below ground level by previous owners, keeps the desert dwelling cool.
"We like that it has density and permanence," Todd says.
"And history," Kelly adds.
The first order of business once the Bostocks settled in was remodeling the kitchen. Before they took ownership, it was a kitchen for "heating up food," Todd says, with a microwave and glass-top stove.
The couple found a kitchen island in Tucson and put an electrical socket on the side so it could plug into the outlets in the floor. They hung pendant lights above the island and changed out the existing sink to a more user-friendly model. The Bostocks installed a dishwasher and took out the microwave, but despite the improvements, there are more things the couple would like to change.
"We still have long term dreams to bring it back to its original state," Todd says.
The closest grocery store is a nearly two hour round-trip for the Bostocks, so the kitchen is kept well-stocked. There are two refrigerators, and the Bostocks plan to add a full-size freezer as well.
"We cook at home 90 times out of 100," Todd says. They keep a large bookshelf of cookbooks to inspire their meals.
While Kelly gathers tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers to begin making a salad, Todd demonstrates how to make one of his favorite cocktails, a Paloma, using bacanora, a smokey agave spirit from Sonora, Mexico with notes of salted caramel and sweet grass. He adds fresh grapefruit juice to the bacanora and runs the combination through his soda stream to add necessary carbonation. Finished with a pinch of smoked Maldon sea salt, the cocktail is tart, smokey, and refreshing.
"It's a longing for warmer weather," Todd says.
Next is a trip to the Bostocks' makeshift wine cellar, which sits in a handsome stone room. The room is cool and boasts impressive labels befitting a winemaker's personal collection.
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SHOW ME HOW
Back in the kitchen, Todd busies himself making quick pickles using a technique he picked up on a trip to the James Beard house in New York. Making small 45 degree-angled cuts in cucumbers, Todd dices them, adds garlic, apple cider vinegar, sesame seeds, and chili seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson. The pickles are crisp and flavorful, with a delightful crunch and a surprising complexity for so simple a preparation.
Kelly makes a second salad of kale with a nutty dressing, while Todd fires up the grill and prepares a small fleet of steaks. Taking in the warmth emanating from the space, it's clear that the Bostocks have created a rural home with cosmopolitan comforts, a little oasis in the Sonoran desert.