It’s famous for the Grand Canyon, but Arizona also houses over 100 wineries in the state. Such is the growing quality that it’s becoming a new Sideways destination choice for lovers of fine wine.
Arizona’s romance with winemaking, sparked by Spanish missionaries in the 17th century, was rekindled in recent decades by a group of passionate vintners who’ve helped turn the acres of vineyards into three wine trails. With visitors able to explore them by road, horseback or even kayak, it’s tempting indeed. Just remember to spit if you’re out for a full day of wine tasting…
The state first renewed its relationship with grapes in the lovely rolling grasslands some 50 miles southeast of Tucson, a mile-high terrain underlain by red clay soil akin to some of Europe’s famed growing regions. Callaghan Winery has probably garnered the most national kudos and awards; its particular strength is Spanish-style reds. Dos Cabezas WineWorks sits on the main street of Sonoita and is another winery specialising in big, bold reds. Sonoita Vineyards wines have been served at the White House and won numerous prestigious The Arizona Republic Wine Competition Awards, including the 2011 gold medal for its Sparkles Peach dessert wine.
Located in northern Arizona, the Verde Valley Wine Trail invites wine enthusiasts to experience a destination rich in history, beauty and the production of Arizona wines. There are five Arizona wineries and six tasting rooms on the Verde Valley Wine Trail that offer a variety of skilfully crafted wines to satisfy any palate. Caduceus Cellars is a winery in Jerome, owned by Maynard James Keenan, a musician descended from northern Italian wine makers. Visit the wineries and tasting rooms nestled in the red rock countryside and lush canyons surrounding Cottonwood, Jerome, Sedona, Clarkdale and Cornville.
At Rhone-centric Page Springs Cellars, a gold medal from 2012 Dallas Morning News and TexSom Wine Competition for the 2010 El Serrano is among the most recent awards garnered by the winery that winemaker/ecologist Eric Glomski founded in 2004.
Many of the grapes used in Sonoita/Elgin and Verde Valley wines have long been grown in the foothills of the rugged mountains in far southeast Arizona. The deep, rich soils of this 4,200 to 4,600-foot-high area, anchored by the former railroad town of Willcox, produce more wine grapes than the other two regions combined. It is only in the last half-dozen years that a significant number of places to sample the local winemakers’ products have cropped up. Coronado Vineyards doubles as a tapas lounge and the 2011 The Arizona Republic Wine Competition named their Voodoux, a white blend, a Judge’s Favourite and awarded bronze medals for two of their dessert blends.