A Growing Wine Region: Arizona

When humans consider Arizona, they don’t typically consider wine. Desert? Yes. Searing warmth? Yes. Wine? Not so much.

Now, you may offer wines from the Grand Canyon State to your eating place. And they’re now not for cooking. The first-class manner to keep clients coming lower back is to create memories that they will talk approximately for all time. Show them some thing new, including wines from the up-and-coming location of Arizona.

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Andrew Stover, sommelier of Oya Restaurant in Washington, D.C., who has carried Arizona wines for greater than two years, says the patron expectancies toward Arizona wines run the gamut.

“We get all sorts of reactions to Arizona wines, from people from Arizona excited to look the wines out of doors in their domestic to visitors bowled over that I might positioned Arizona wine anywhere in between,” Stover says. “The skeptics don’t have a good deal to mention once they placed it of their mouth. It clearly turns heads because it’s an alternative to Chardonnay.”

Oya Restaurant sells approximately a case a week of the Arizona Stronghold Vineyards Tazi white blend (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Malvasia Bianca, Pinot Gris, and Riesling) it serves via the glass. Stover says the wine practically sells itself. “People gravitate closer to neighborhood, off-the-crushed-track wines,” he says. “It is incredible for human beings that like wealthy Chardonnay, however need to get out of that box. It is a full-bodied, creamy wine with tons of fruit characteristics. It’s no longer about the very wellflavors, however rounding out the flavors of the grapes.”

Paula Woolsey, CSW, countrywide sales supervisor of Arizona Stronghold, says the wines are to be had in 35 states however were not available in California till early this yr. The largest market out of doors Arizona is Calgary, Alberta. Arizona Stronghold is in its 5th vintage and developing. Sales have constantly elevated 100 percentage yearly for the beyond four years. According to Woolsey, sales will continue to grow any other 50 percentage this yr.

And to what does this new frontier characteristic its developing achievement? “No offense, however who wishes any other California Chardonnay?” Woolsey explains. “People’s expectancies are so low. They compare the wines to ones they’ve had in Michigan. They don’t even know how to react.” She, like Stover, says it’s far a extraordinary opportunity to California Chardonnay, that is a saturated market.

Arizona Stronghold focuses on natural and sustainable wines. The vines are planted at excessive elevation, much like situations in Argentina. Arizona has the second largest diurnal shift, or the maximum excessive variant in temperature from the highs of the day to the cool of nights, out of doors Argentina.

The areas strengths are highlighted in Blood Into Wine, a documentary about Maynard James Keenan (vocalist for Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer) and his vineyard, Arizona Stronghold, in Verde Valley, Arizona, with Eric Glomski, a former panorama ecologist. It became released February 19, 2010, to sell Arizona as a pleasant wine-generating location.

This insightful documentary specializes in Keenan’s passion as a vigneron, one that plans his musical excursions around the vines. As a pioneer in the place, Arizona Stronghold faced many demanding situations early on, which include violent climate and pests, like deer or even wild boars. Although they nevertheless face a number of the identical demanding situations, they were able to discover answers to most.

Arizona as a wine area baffles most wine critics, but it has ultimate weather and soil. The volcanic residue and limestone-rich soil in Verde Valley is much like that determined in southern Sicily. Critics and writers, which includes James Suckling from Wine Spectator, are used throughout the film, and each brings his personal precise observations to both the wine enterprise and the burgeoning Arizona lifestyle.

According to Ricky Young, regional sales manager at Quench Fine Wines Ltd., the employer’s income have extended among 25 percent and 30 percentage over the past 3 years. Quench Fine Wines Ltd. Is the key distributor for Arizona wines in Arizona, representing three wineries: Arizona Stronghold, Page Spring Cellars and Dos Cabezas. Quench functions one hundred thirty home wineries and 20 importers with over 2,one hundred selections from round the world. Arizona Stronghold, with 15 picks, is its second-nice supplier.

“With a corporation that sells about $eleven million an 12 months, this is simply exact,” Young says. “It’s a high-quality partnership we have shaped. That shows you that the community in this state has pushed the success of Arizona wines.”

Arizona has visible one of the quickest-developing markets for wine inside the U.S. As currently as 2006, the region was domestic to just a dozen wineries with most effective three tasting rooms. Today, there are 62 wineries in all of Arizona, a growth price of 5 instances in five years.

The Arizona wine-producing vicinity is one of the oldest in the usa, believed to were first settled through Spanish settlers within the sixteenth century. But Arizona wine enterprise faced many challenges along the way, together with Prohibition and Pierce’s Disease, as a result of a vine-killing bacterium. Arizona came out of Prohibition five years after the rest of the us of a. It become awarded its best American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1984-Sonoita, located in southeast Arizona, south of the town of Tucson.

According to Woolsey, it became even unlawful for a clergyman to serve wine in communion earlier than 1984. In May 2006, the Arizona Legislature passed a invoice to give up Arizona’s ban on direct interstate wine income.

Arizona now has main developing regions in addition to Sonoita. The Willcox area in Cochise County turned into the second region to come back on board. And now the Verde Valley is the 1/3 region for growing grapes. The elevation of these vineyards ranges between three,800 feet and nearly 6,000 ft, allowing for pleasant warm days and funky nights at some stage in the grape developing season. These climatic situations are similar to Mendoza, Argentina, and Walla Walla, Washington.

Arizona Stronghold winery isn’t always the handiest entity revolutionizing Arizona wines. Yavapai College is soon to be considered one of 3 universities inside the United States with an enology program that has a wine-producing vineyard.

In 2010, Merkin Vineyards subsidized the planting of 1 acre of vines. On May 5, 2012, the college planted 3 more acres of vineyards, and it is going to be launching a 3-year enology companion degree this fall modeled after the program at Walla Walla University in Yakima Valley. The enology application at Yavapai College started in 2009 with handiest two lessons: wine tasting and viticulture.

According to Nichole Check, the director of viticulture at Yavapai College seeing that its inception, the call for for grapes is so high in Arizona that the university was compelled to plant their own vineyards. In the approaching years, the viticulture software will plant as much as 18 acres to offer sufficient fruit for the three,000-case facility on the way to be breaking floor on early 2013.

“This is the most important thing that Yavapai College will ever do,” Check says. “The university, aside from schooling skilled exertions, affords an annual symposium in which we bring in extraordinary speakers to touch on one of a kind subjects. This is another manner that the college has furnished sources to push the enterprise ahead in high-quality.”

Check has labored within the Arizona wine enterprise for a decade, including five years at Merkin Vineyards. “It became a painful enjoy inside the beginning,” she says. “The pioneers went through the ringer viticulturally, and it has honestly paid off. I watched the wines pass from pretty mediocre to splendid within the remaining 10 years.”