Category Archives: Arizona Wine Growers Association

Arizona wines get all the attention at 9th Annual Grand Wine Festival

Arizona’s largest Arizona wine only event grows even larger this year as the Arizona Wine Growers Association’s Grand Wine Festival spills on to 6th Street from the Heritage Square festival. This, the 9th year of showcasing Arizona wines takes place on Saturday & Sunday January 27th and 28th and grows by 15,000 square feet when 6th Street is closed off this year.

Arizona wines poured

Over 30 Arizona wineries will travel to downtown Phoenix from Elgin, Sonoita and the southern part of our state along with wineries up I-17 in Jerome, Page Springs and the Verde Valley. Dos Cabezas, LDV Winery and Burning Tree Cellars are just a few of the wineries pouring their wines at the 2 day festival while.

Winners of the AZ Central Arizona Wine Competition will be announced at the Grand Wine Gala on Friday evening which is already sold out.

In addition to tasting wine at the festival, attendees will have live music to  enjoy as well as food trucks and other local vendors to visit with.

“We already have a record number of both wineries in attendance and wines being poured at this year’s festival, but now having the extra space will allow for record-breaking attendance numbers as well,” said Brian Predmore, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.

Arizona wines
Kurt Dunham owner/winemaker of LDV Winery

Purchase tickets

The festival will start both days at 11 a.m. and run until 7 p.m. on Saturday and until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 for 6 tasting samples or $20 for 10 samples can be purchased at their website.



Arizona Grape Growers Anticipate Good 2012 Season

The Arizona wine industry is receiving a lot of attention in recent years as the number of vineyard acres are expanding, wine production is increasing, and the quality of Arizona wines are being recognized. There are now over 60 bonded wineries in Arizona up from nine in 2000. However, wine grape acres have not kept up with the demand sending Arizona wineries to purchase grapes from outside of the state. According to recent articles, the California wine grape supply is facing long-term shortages due to myriad of issues facing that industry, including water.
Peggy Fiandaca, President of the Arizona Wine Growers Association, said “The opportunities of the Arizona wine industry are great, and there is no reason that the wine industry cannot be the next Billion Dollar wine region like Washington and Oregon.” A recent study The Arizona Wine Tourism Industry, June 2011 funded by the Arizona Office of Tourism found that the wine visitor had an estimated $22.7 Million in direct expenditures resulting in a total economic impact of $37.6 Million, supporting 405 total jobs.
“We are pretty excited about this year’s growing season because it appears we have finally skirted the frost season. It’s been a few years since we have had a decent sized harvest; and, if the long term forecasts out there come in even close to predictions – this should be the year,” according to Eric Glomski, co-owner and director of winegrowing of Page Springs Cellars. Eric says that they have planted an additional 16 acres at the Page Springs estate and are managing the ColibriVineyards in the Chiricahua Mountains in Southeastern Arizona. They are focusing on Rhone red and white varietals but have some Pinot Noir in a cool site and planted Vermentino, Teraldage, and Counoise.
In Arizona’s oldest wine region, the anticipation for a good growing season is also high. Kent Callaghan, winemaker of Callaghan Vineyards in Sonoita, had their first vintage in 1991. Today Callaghan’s estate winery is looking forward to a really good year in the vineyard. According to Kent, “We have planted new varieties that will produce small crops so we can get a feel for them here (Fiano, Vermentino, Petit Manseng, Malbec, Carmenere, and TourigaNacional). We also planted about two acres of whites (Petit Manseng, Malvasi Bianca, and Roussanne).” Kent anticipates harvesting a sizable crop of Graciano from their 3.25 acres planted. “It looks like a good, fun year so far,” he stated.
Southeastern Arizona is the third major wine grape growing region and one of the fastest in the amount of acres being planted. “After two spring frost years in a row, we had very minimal damage from the only frost event in mid-April,” according Curt Dunham, owner/winemaker of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards. “So far, we have a very encouraging amount of buds in the entire vineyard. Our Viognier, which is typically considered a light producer, is absolutely loaded with buds. If we get a good fruit set and normal weather, it should be a very good year in terms of volume.”
“The Arizona wine industry is excited about the start of the 2012 growing season. The increase in vineyard acreage and the fantastic wines being produced will support our efforts to put Arizona on the map as a quality winemaking and grape growing region,” said Peggy Fiandaca, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.

Reprinted from Arizona Wine Growers Assoc. press release.

Arizona Wineries Growers Assoc. 3rd Annual Festival at The Farm part 2

Here are 3 more wineries I visited with at the 3rd Annual Festival at The Farm last weekend.

Keeling-Schaefer Vineyards produces about 3,000 cases annually from their 21 acres in Cochise county. Winemaker Rod Keeling has been making wine for 13 years and his experience shows. I had the opportunity to chat with Rod and his daughter Cecelia while tasting 3 wines, with 2 of them being available only from the winery. The  2009 Three Sisters Syrah is soft, ripe with good fruit. It’s complexity and medium body give it a nice mouth feel. Plenty is available as they made 539 cases, quite a bit for an Arizona winery. The 2007 Home Place Reserve Syrah gets aged for 3 years in new French oak and delivers a soft start that leads to a full bodied wine. With only 96 cases produced this wine is only available at their tasting room and online, as is the 2008 Schaefer Boys Mourvedre. This 68 case production wine is spicy with dark fruit and is terror driven, showcasing their Rock Creek vineyard.

Kief Manning is the winemaker at Kief-Joshua Vineyards in Elgin is very well versed at wine making & the wine business having earned both an undergraduate & graduate degree at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Grapes are provided by their 2 vineyards with 60 acres planted to vines in Elgin and Kansas Settlement. Pouring 2 white wines and 2 reds at the festival all were good, solid wines. I was especially fond 2 of them. The 2010 Cephus is easy drinking blend of Chardonnay and Rousanne. Light and crisp this is a good food wine or drank by itself. His 2009 Magdalena is 70% Petite Sirah and 30% Barbera that has some earthy overtones and solid dark fruit qualities. Kief-Joshua is striving to be environmentally friendly by implementing several techniques in the vineyards and at the winery. I’m curious to see what Kief can do with Pinot Noir as he has some currently in the barrell.

Dos Cabezas Wineworks is owned by the Bostock family and Todd Bostock is their winemaker. Getting most of their fruit from Dick Erath’s Cimarron vineyards next door, Todd not only makes good wines, he is also experimenting with others plantings of varieties from from Spain, Italy and France. Making about 3,000 cases annually some of Todd’s stand outs were the 2009 El Norte which is a Syrah based blend and is dry, soft and spicy with medium tannins. The 2009 Red is Grenache based and offer good fruit and a soft on the palate. I also enjoyed the 2009 El Campo which is an interesting blend made mostly of Tempranillo and Mourvedre that I found spicy, with good tannins and fruit.

Arizona Wine Growers Assoc. 3rd Annual Festival at The Farm

The Farm at South Mountain was the scene for the 3rd Annual Festival at The Farm with over 30 wineries in attendance. Most have been making wine for years and several are relatively newcomers. My goal was to catch up with some old friends while at the same time meet some new friends who I’ve heard good things about. This is the 1st of a series of posts to come.

My 1st stop was at the table of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards, which specializes in Rhone varieties from Willcox in south east Arizona. Owner/ winemaker Curt Dunham was pouring 5 of 2009 reds that happen to be his 1st release. Curt who is a self taught winemaker was showcasing some food friendly, Grenache’s, Petite Sirah’s and his R.E.D which is a blend of Grenche, Mourvedre and Petite Sirah. Wines that were well balanced, with good fruit, medium tannins and hints of spice, Curt was able to produce wine with only 2 years of grapes on the vines. Less than 130 cases of each of the 5 wines are produced and all should retail for less than $30 each.

I made my way over to Rob and Sarah Hammelman of Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, where they were pouring their 2010 Malvasia and Rose. Rob caught the wine bug when working at Callaghan Vineyards(read about them soon) on a summer off from teaching. He then graduated from the University of Adelaide in Australia and learned to make wine at Hewitson while down under. His desire to make old world Rhone wines became a reality in 2008 when he learned from the famed winemaker Louis Barruol of Ch. St. Cosme in Gigondas. Rob and Sarah currently have only 3 acres planted to vines and both do about everything themselves. The Malvasia has a great nose, crisp acidity good fruit and should be a crowd pleaser. A small crowd though as only 85 cases have been produced. The Rose is a blend of 65% Nebbiolo, 31% Sangiovese and 4% Syrah, and is fermented in neutral oak. A good food wine, it’s dry style has depth and a good mouth feel. Only 60 cases of this vibrant wine have been produced. If you can find these wines they both retail for under $30.
The 1 winery that really put Arizona wine on the map in 1990s was Callaghan Vineyards and owner/winemaker Kent Callaghan still sets the bar for others. Pouring 5 reds from the 2009 vintage and a white blend from 2010.  Kent’s red wines are big and bold and offer deep fruit along with great aging potential. His 2009 Padres blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Syrah was a gold medal winner and judges favorite at the banquet the evening before the tasting. I’m excited to see what Kent could do with with the Graciano the he has planted along with other Italian whites he’s grafting for future plantings. He feels that Sonoita has great growing conditions for Italian white grapes.

These are just 3 of the wineries I visited with at The Festival and in coming days I will post others and bring you up to speed on more of the latest and greatest that Arizona wineries have to offer. For more information on Arizona Wineries please go to Cheers!