members of the wine club

Cheers! – New Sagewood Resident Brings Community Together by Creating a Wine Society

One of the most exciting parts about senior living communities is the chance to form friendships with neighbors and to participate in events and activities together. Stephanie Harkness, who moved with her husband to Sagewood from Pebble Beach, California in November 2021, knew that she was interested in joining a group with likeminded individuals who share her love of wine.

“We raised our kids and grew up around Monterey County, and when we were visiting friends and family for dinners we would do wine tastings,” says Stephanie. “We also have traveled to many wine regions of the world, and I studied and passed the Level 2 Court of Master Sommeliers exam, which is considered to be the gold standard.”

residents enjoying wineAfter discovering a Wine Society didn’t exist yet at Sagewood, Stephanie kicked it into high gear and joined forces with Michael Kunze, food and beverage director at Sagewood, to organize a group. This wasn’t an unknown venture for the new resident, as she previously founded and ran a 1,200-member wine society in Silicon Valley. The Sagewood Resident Wine Society was formed in April 2022 with just eight members. The group proven to be so popular, it now has 114 members and continues to grow. Along with Stephanie, who serves as the president, there are eight council members who help with the society.

In the short term, the society sent out a letter of interest to members to gauge their interest in activities. Based on the survey, they are beginning with wine tastings, seminars and regional trips. So far, the group has had a few wine tastings in the Owl’s Nest and have gone to the Arizona Wine Collective twice for off-site events. This October, they will have a tasting focusing on South African wines, which will be one of the educational events that expand everyone’s palates.

residents enjoying wineTrips will be an important part of the journey, starting in October with the Wine Society’s first visit to the Northern Oregon wine region, Willamette Valley. Future plans include potential international trips to explore some of the famed wineries of the world.

Stephanie and her husband have traveled to more than 100 countries, with many of their trips focused on wine. She is partial to Italy and exploring its many unique wine regions. “It’s a very welcoming country and we love everything about it. We’ve probably been there 10 times wine tasting in the various wine regions,” she shares. “My personal palate likes Old World versus New World wines.”

The Wine Society website includes articles written by Stephanie that show her passion for wine and provide members of the group with insights and education on wine. “In one of my articles I talk about the growing conditions that are unique to Arizona. But there are other regions in the world that have similar challenges in terms of weather, soil, lack of water. Some of the grapes in Arizona you would never see in California, Oregon or Washington, but they might be in Greece or Croatia,” she says.

Stephanie adds, “The best part of Sagewood are the people who live here. If there’s an interest among other residents to join the Wine Society, we are looking forward to it continuing to grow.”