A former lawyer/minster and his wife, a retired Day Care Center Director, have found fun, fellowship, and frivolity in wineries. They are teaching others about their drink of choice and the joy they have found in introducing others to the grape beverage.

Finding a New Hobby

Royal Oaks Wine Club founders George and Jan Caruso, residents since May 2012, had busy careers and raised a family, hardly ever taking the time to indulge in adult beverages, let alone become experts on wine. After they retired more than 20 years ago, they were teaching classes on Marriage Enrichment in the Indiana area and decided to embark on some hobbies that had stalled because of their busy work lives. Soon the Carusos found themselves owning an RV and driving across the country, where seeking out wineries became a fun goal. “We’ve tasted wine at little and big wineries and in all states except Alaska and North Dakota,” Jan announced with a twinkle in her eye.

Eventually, they settled into Sun City Grand in the West Valley, where Jan found similar like-minded grape enthusiasts. The Carusos began a regular social event, hosted in their home, with the purpose of learning about different kinds of wine and traveling to visit new wineries become more educated. “We love the Hart Winery in Temecula, California,” said Jan. There are dozens of wineries in that region and Jan and George continue to seek out some favorites there.

Entertaining and Educating at Royal Oaks

Once the Carusos became Royal Oaks residents and as word spread of their enthusiasm and knowledge, the dean of The Learning Tree, Royal Oaks’ lifelong learning program, asked them to put on a wine-tasting course. The two-day course covered Southern Arizona wines one day and Northern Arizona wines the next. The Carusos have been to all but two or three of the 70 wineries in Arizona so who better to lend insight?

“In addition to tasting wines, we covered how to make a wine tasting room a good experience, how to properly serve and pour wine, and other wine-related topics,” said George. The course was so popular that it was repeated three years in a row.

“Arizona has come a long way in the making of wines,” commented George. “Our wines here compare very favorably to California and Italy’s wines because of the environment, temperature, and soil. Most people are happy to learn about wines right in our back yard—and of course, to drink them!”

The Royal Oaks Wine Club currently includes 72 residents, and has a strong waiting list! The club is broken into three groups of 24 people each because the organizers decided 24 was the perfect number for one-ounce pours from the bottles. At each event, club members taste 5-6 wines and snack on appropriates cheeses and chocolates to complement the wines of the month.

George and Jan don’t have a problem with being referred to as “The Winers” and in fact, are proud when they are sought out for an opinion on a wine being served by another resident. The October event for the Wine Club groups is an introduction to Canadian wines by fellow wine enthusiasts and Royal Oaks residents Paula and George Berscheid. They spent a good part of the summer traveling throughout Canada to sample that region’s wineries.

Whatever fun is happening on campus, George and Jan raise their hands. This year, they broke out their inner actors as the Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley characters in our Pirates of the Caribbean photo shoot for our annual calendar highlighting famous movies.

Join Us for a Wine Club Meeting!

On November 7 from starting at 3 pm on our pool patio, the Carusos are hosting a wine tasting for prospective residents. This is not only a great way to taste some good wine, but a perfect social occasion to meet Royal Oak residents and see what common ground you have. To find out more and register, call 623-815-4132.