Sunday, June 29, 2008

Arizona Wine Country

Arizona Wine Country? Yes, it does sound like an oxymoron. I mean really, in this arid land where today it is hovering around 112 degrees, can anything really grow?

Welcome to Sonoita Arizona. This wine country is about 55 miles outside of Tucson, with beautiful rolling countryside in between. And at nearly 5000' elevation, Sonoita is 10 to 15 degrees cooler than Tucson.

The first vineyard in Sonoita started in 1973. There are now 14 vineyards and wineries. According to the Arizona Wine Grower's Association, climate and soil studies show that this region is similar to Ribera Del Duero, Spain; Southeastern Australia, Southern France and is almost identical to that of Paso Robles California. But, as you can see from this picture looking out from the tasting room, it does not have the crowds, commercialism and tourist overload of most wine countries, like Paso Robles or Napa.

A few weeks ago we had an open Sunday with no obligations, a full tank of gas, and an appetite for a little wine adventure. We set off for the 2 1/2 hour drive out of Phoenix to scout out this little Arizona treasure. Our first stop was Dos Cabezas. Wine maker Todd Bostock bids that this is a family owned and operated vineyard. We had enjoyed a Dos Cabezas wine last fall at the famous Pizzeria Bianco, and couldn't wait to get our hands on more. Once inside we did a little tasting...

I forgot to keep track of all the wines we tasted. The owner was pouring, and even served up several vintages of the same varietal. This Toscano pictured, is one of 5 different vintages we tasted. I believe we had the '03, '04', '05, '06 and a tiny sip of a very precious '99 that was opened because of few of his friends from Tucson had stopped in to visit. We also had several of the other varietals that day, but the Toscano was my favorite. We took home a bottle of the '05. It is a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. I'm looking forward to having it with our next 'Pizza Night.'

We headed to another vineyard after that called Kief-Joshua. The tasting room is in the owner's home, and once again, the owner himself poured our tastings. A budding new kid on the block, this one has great potential. The wines he poured are currently from outsourced grapes, but his should be ready in the next couple years, and bottling to follow. If the wines we tasted that day are any indication of the wine makers skill, they will certainly be fabulous.

We were hoping to catch Callaghan, but it had closed early this particular Sunday. Instead, we headed back to Phoenix, with bellies full of wine, and relaxed attitudes - ready to begin another busy week. Our lesson for next time was to head down earlier in the day...


Anonymous said...

It is hard to imagine wine country in Arizona but if they can get the cool temps that Paso is able to get in the evening, then the possibility of good acid balance is there. Thanks for the tour.

LucyinStLou said...

How interesting! It only makes sense that Arizona can make great wine. I've been drinking lots of sparkling from New Mexico these days. Thanks for showing it off!

Claire Uncorked said...

Like Lucy, I love the NM sparklings from Gruet.

One of our favorite things to do is try wine from different states that we're going through. It doesn't always work out, but we've managed to hit a few. Every state in the Union has wineries - who knew?

We've been to wineries in MO (obviously, we live there), IL, FL, TN, & NC. We've been wanting to go to TX wine country, but we keep getting distracted by the Caribbean.... =)