Yep- “wine country” exists in Arizona and is definitely an up-and-coming industry here! Possibly even more surprising is that it actually exists in more than one region in Arizona: both northern and southern. Weird, right? Contrary to popular belief, Arizona is not all desert. Arizona is extremely diverse and has the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest and several mountain ranges over 9,000 feet (and 3 ski resorts). Knowing that, it doesn’t sound so far-fetched that Arizona would have great spots in which to grow vines and make some vino.
This post is about those wineries and vineyards in Northern Arizona- but don’t you worry, I’ll be sure and cover the wine region in Willcox and Sonoita in the future (not to be confused with Sonoyta). I figure that since Jesus turned water into wine, he must want us drinking it…so I do and I may as well share that info on my blog.
Placed between Cottonwood, Jerome, and Sedona sits the Verde Valley where many great wines can be found. If you designate someone to drive, it makes for a great day of wine tasting (I recently was able to enjoy this experience for my friend’s bachelorette party… #justsayin’). In fact, the Verde Valley Wine Trail has a ton of details for making a tour out of several wineries & vineyards.
The wineries (with tasting room) include:
- Alcantara Vineyards
- Chateau Tumbleweed
- Clear Creek Winery
- D.A. Ranch
- Javelina Leap Vineyards
- Page Springs Cellars
- Oak Creek Vineyards
The tasting rooms you can visit include:
- Arizona Stronghold Vineyards
- Burning Tree Cellars
- Cellar 433
- Fire Mountain Wines
- Passion Cellars
- Pillsbury Wine Company
While I haven’t personally visited all of the above, I have visited the ones I’ve underlined. (Looks like I’ve got more drinking to do!) Arizona Stronghold Vineyards was co-founded in 2007 by Eric Glomski and Tool’s famous Maynard James Keenan (“Maynard”) in hopes of putting Arizona wines on the national map. During the seven year run together, Arizona Stronghold wines have definitely made a name for themselves and in the process of putting Arizona wines on the map…won recognition at numerous wine competitions including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Awards and Taster’s Guild International Wine Competition. I’d say their mission was accomplished. In 2014, they split leaving Glomski with the tasting room and winery in Camp Verde and rights to the stronghold name. Maynard took the vineyard in Southern Arizona and renamed it (now Buhl Memorial Vineyard after the late Albert K. Buhl).
Glomski also happens to own Page Springs Cellars–a bit of a drive but not too far away. Page Springs Cellars is a pretty cool piece of property. You can enjoy your tasting, order food at the counter, and then find somewhere along the property to sit and relax. They pack your food in a carrying tray like a picnic and then off you go to find the perfect spot to enjoy your meal. The wines are pretty tasty, too.
Alcantara was probably my favorite stop (it was also our first and I remember it the best, ha!). The property is absolutely beautiful! It was actually recently named on a short list of ten by Martha Stewart of vineyards outside of California wine country of vineyards to get married at. That’s a pretty high remark coming from the queen of making all things perfect! I really enjoyed many of the wines at this property as well. I’ll touch more in depth on a couple of these vineyards in future posts so keep an eye out if you’re wanting more details!
In total, there are three “wine trails” in Arizona that you could plan a trip out of. While the industry is still very young in Arizona, it’s on its way to becoming a dinnertime-topic. I assume people still sit down and eat at home and talk about things other than politics? Wine’s a great topic, so there you go. Three nights of discussion already planned out for you…unless you don’t drink or have kids you don’t want hearing you talking about drinking. Then, sorry, I suppose you’re still on your own for coming up with discussion. =)
I hope to cover all three wine trails at some point- it’s one thing to see them on a website but another to have personal feedback before you plan a trip out of it. For the Verde Valley wine trail, I’d definitely recommend the ones I’ve highlighted above and if you have a designated driver and the time, maybe throw the Pillsbury Wine Company onto your list as well. It’s basically across the street from Arizona Stronghold in Cottonwood, so it’s super convenient! (though I haven’t been to it personally yet. Let me know your thoughts if you go!) New wineries are popping up quickly as well, so I’m sure this is already an outdated list! Hope your week is off to a great start and we’ll catch you back here soon. Cheers!