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Feb 1, 2008 05:53 AM

Arizona vineyards?

We're traveling around southern Arizona in March and I see that there are a few vineyards. I didn't know that was a wine-growing region (though it seems like most everywhere is these days.) Can anyone tell me if they're worth a visit?


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  1. Never been to the winery itself, but the only wines I've ever had from Arizona that I found worthwhile were those from Callaghan.

    3 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      Great call. Right down the road, is Dos Cabezas, where Kent Callaghan once did some time as wine maker on several varietals. Now, Callaghan specializes in blends. I find that I enjoy his red blends far more, than most of the whites. OTOH, DC has some great single-varietal wines, especially their whites. Be sure to try the Viognier, but ask that it be poured into a large bowled glass, and that it is not too cold. We've had this wine with several meals, and loved it. You just do not want to miss all of the subtle nuances, especially the floral, that will be occluded, if the wine is too cool. I have not been to their tasting room, so I do not know how they serve - just smile, ask for a Bdx. stem and plan on letting the wine come up to temp. You will appreciate that little bit of work.

      Fortunately, most of the good vineyards/wineries are in the same area. Unfortunately, they are not that close together - much more like Sonoma, than Napa. Also, there are a few new wineries up in the Sedona Area. I do not know if they have any presence (some places that I've lived and traveled, have had co-op tasting rooms for wineries that are not in that area, but are worthwhile - think Los Olivos, CA, well, almost). If you are getting up to Sedona, check out the wines from there, too. Seems that there is a co-op tasting room, on the S. end of town, as you come in on 89.

      Enjoy, as there are some surprising wines coming out of AZ. One that you might not want to spend much time at is Kokopeli. Try them, just for a base reference, but I'd urge you to NOT judge AZ wine, by anything that you're likely to encounter there.


      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Thanks for all the good info! I'm looking forward to our trip.

        1. re: tb1478

          Now, remember that you MUST do a report from the trip - the wine, the dining, etc.

          Unfortunately, we have yet to get down to that area. We drink the wines, and enjoy them, but never seem to have the time to extend our Tucson trips to incorporate that area. Heck, we never have any time to stay in Tucson, and have some event back in PHX, so we have missed much, even when we are there for a few days.


    2. I was just there this past weekend. It makes for a fun side trip from Tucson. There are a whole bunch of vineyards sprouting up now, I was excited to learn that Dick Erath (founder of Erath Vineyards in Oregon) bought some land down there to try his luck. The ones I liked the best are Callaghan and Dos Cabezas by far. They both make pretty good wines in my opinion, and the winemakers are really nice people. Then there are a couple of newer places we went to, Rancho Rossa and Canelo Hills. I was not a fan of Rancho Rossa wines but they have a fun tasting room (they appear to be Deadheads). I did actually enjoy several of the Canelo Hills wines, they are right next door to Callaghan. There are also several wineries that make sweet, "picnic wines" as they like to call them... But those are not really my cup of tea. Those are Village of Elgin winery and Sonoita. Those tasting rooms have been around a long time and can get pretty crowded on weekends.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jcoz23

        Oops, did not see this post, when I mentioned DC, but I do agree.


        1. In Los Angeles, the radio station 103.1 does Wino Wednesdays, in which a local sommelier or wine maker brings in three bottles and they discuss them. This morning they had Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer from the bands Tool and A Perfect Circle come in and discuss a winery he is involved with in Arizona, Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars.

          4 Replies
          1. re: AlabasterDisaster

            Yeah, I have heard about that too (from friends that are Tool fans, but haven't tried the wine). The tasting room is in Cornville, which is halfway between Sedona and Jerome. So not in southern AZ, but many visitors to AZ wind up going up to that neck of the woods at some point or another. The website to the place is cool!

            1. re: jcoz23

              There is a new vitacultural area blooming up toward Oak Creek Canyon. I've gotten reports of some world-class Syrah, just above Sedona, but it seems that the winemaker sells out before harvest from his list. Heck, I thought that Turley was difficult! Gotta' get to Cornville too! So much wine, so little time.


              1. re: jcoz23

                Actually, the vineyard that they own are in southern AZ even though the tasting room is up north. I believe they also have or are planning to have some vineyards up near Sedona.

              2. re: AlabasterDisaster

                There was a very nice piece in the local (PHX) paper, back about July, on his endeavors. I have yet to see his wine, and I try to do local productions, when I can. We have always supported the local vitacultural efforts, even if they often cost more, and too often fall behind similar offerings from CA. Still, if I support them (if they make good wines), they will likely put more into their production, in terms of quality. If I do not support them, they will "die on the vine... "

                Some years back, we did holiday wines from Callaghan Vineyards, because most of the senior management team, had never had AZ wines, and I wanted to share some good ones. I do not know how they went over, but at least we exposed these folk, all living in AZ at the time, to wines, that they were not likely to see on most wine lists in the PHX-Area.

                Yes, I did get more compliments on the Le Montrachet from the year before, but I have enjoyed most of Kent Callaghan's red blends, and cellar many, plus serve more. Though not a Bill Clinton fan, the Callaghan Buena Suerte Cuvée was the White House red for at least one term.

                I have got to set aside a long weekend and do the AZ "wine country," for myself, if for no other reason, than to shake Kent Callaghan's hand, and say thank you.


              3. hi there,

                there's also a cluster of vineyards in cornville, which is off of i-17 smack dab in between phx and sedona...we liked - page mill springs and javalena leap, we had a great barrel tasting there on a reserve pinot that was out of htis world.

                1 Reply
                1. re: winedubar

                  Yeah, the southern wineries seem to get more attention, but there are some very good places up North in the Cottonwood/Cornville area. One poster mentioned that the lead singer of Tool (Maynard James Keenan) is involved with making wine up there, and that is true - he works with Page Springs Vineyards who actually make the wine for him, though he owns his own vineyards. It's worth mentioning that they sell his wine at Page Springs, but don't do tastings of it. Also, Maynard and the Page Springs winemaker have purchased the Dos Cabezas vineyards in the SE part of the state and plan to make wine from those grapes under the Arizona Stonghold label.

                  Page Springs makes some very good wine of their own. Another area winery worth checking out is Alcantara Vineyards...they are a bit off the beaten path (off of 260 on the way to Cottonwood), but they are in a neat area right on the Verde River. The wine is good, and the owner is very friendly and interesting to talk with.

                2. All plonk, as far as I'm concerned.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: ugoshel

                    You obviously haven't tasted much Dos Cabezas or Callaghan.

                    1. re: jock

                      Agreed. Well, about the Callaghan, at least. I haven't tried any from Dos Cabezas.

                      1. re: zin1953

                        IMO DC has made the best wines that have been made so far in Arizona. You should try them.

                        1. re: jock

                          I agree. You re-acquainted me with the DC Viognier. It had been quite a while, since I had experienced it. When I last poured it, it was the white hit of a Rhône (varietal) dinner, over two Condrieus, that cost roughly 8x & 12x as much. Not bad for an AZ wine, IMO.


                        2. re: zin1953

                          they're good - chris bianco has them at bar bianco and i think pizzeria bianco as well

                      2. re: ugoshel

                        Sounds like you have only sampled the Kokopeli Winery offerings. Had you experienced the two major wineries, Dos Cabezas, or Callahagn, I think you'd change your tune.

                        Are they perfect? Are they great "values?" Are they easy to find? No, to all counts. For Callaghan, I prefer his red blends, to most of the white blends, but that is just my personal taste. Dos Cabezas does some excellent single varietal wines, and I find them all to be worth the $. None is truly inexpensive, and are probably in the price-point of many non-major Sonoma vineyards. You can pick up a dozen different wines from Bronco, or Fetzer, that cost far less, but when you get to the quality of these, about $20/btl. retail, it would be hard to find much better, depending on one's personal tastes.

                        If you have not had these, keep an open mind, and try a few. I doubt that you'll be disappointed.