WINE IN ARIZONA?
Wine in Arizona?
When most people think about Arizona, they likely think of high temperatures, cacti, desert, and the Grand Canyon, not wine. A few years ago, I felt the same way until I stumbled upon Caduceus Cellars. I have been a long time music fan of the winemaker and owner, Maynard James Keenan, front man of Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer. So when I learned that my favorite musical artist was now a winemaker, I had to learn more.
Through research and several trips to Arizona I discovered that Arizona grew more grapes than California before prohibition. Due to laws that were enacted during prohibition, the wine making industry came to a halt until 2006 when changes to the laws were made and the tradition of wine making was resurrected.
An interesting and comical documentary, Wine Into Blood, features Keenan and Eric Glomski, winemaker at Page Springs Cellars and and co-founder of Arizona Stronghold (the largest and most popular winery in Arizona) with Keenan in 2007. They take us through their journey in wine making with laughs and music. It has been dubbed “a rock n’ roll version of Sideways”.
Today both continually strive to bring attention to the Arizona wine scene, however they parted ways in 2014, and Glomski retained the Arizona Stronghold name, while Keenan retained ownership of the vineyard in southern Arizona.
Glomski just released a new label, Provisioner. He states that it's "Wine for the People", and each bottle is priced at $10 or less. Something to check out on my next trip to Arizona. Read the story here.
Arizona has three primary wine regions. They are located in the high desert which allows for hot days and cool night, perfect for growing grapes.
South of Tucson. This is the oldest growing area of the three regions and it has been compared it to the Burgundy region of France.
Southeast of Tucson. Syrah and Sangiovese are common varietals found in this rustic region near the Mexican border, and the area produces more grapes than any other region. These grapes are widely distributed across the state to winemakers and it is commonly compared to the Rhone Valley in France and Mendoza, Argentina.
Pillsbury Winery - Willcox, AZ
North of Phoenix. Many varietals can be found growing in this area thanks to the Verde River and its past volcanic history. It is one of the more popular wine regions for tasting rooms due to its proximity to Sedona.
View of the Verde Valley from Jerome, AZ
If you are interested in learning more or visiting the wine regions of Arizona, I would recommend the sources below. I have also been to Willcox and the Verde Valley several times and will post about both trips and the wineries I visited, so please check back.