Willcox’s Aridus Wine Company received national recognition in February when Wine Business Monthly named it a “Hot Brand”. The annual list is compiled with wineries, growers, vintners and wines that are making a statement in the wine industry.
“We are enormously honored and thrilled,” said founder/proprietor Scott Dahmer, “to be recognized by this honor, which comes on a national scale and in a field of very distinguished other contenders.”
Wine Business Monthly singled out the 2015 Syrah as part of the profile which was made by winemaker Lisa Strid. The syrah comes from several local vineyards and is usually the first reds to be harvested each year. Strid likes to pioneer new varietals to the area and likes working with the challenging climate of the region.
Part of consideration for the “Hot Brand” award was the growth of the winery and its commitment to offer all “estate sourced” wines. The high elevation winery and vineyards is in Chiricahua Hills appellation of southeastern Arizona.
Hot Brand choice
Erin Kirschenmann, Wine Business Monthly editor, explains that “every year,
when Wine Business Monthly “Our goal is to always represent the American wine industry. Often, that means discovering a new winery in an established region while also paying homage to the stalwarts who continue to move the industry forward. It means we look at wineries in non-West Coast, “traditional” winemaking states, or those who might be bucking a trend or trying new techniques.”
The winery was founded in 2012 as a custom crush facility for the regions wineries in what was an old apple warehouse. Aridus is Latin for “dry or arid” which is what the terroir offers, good for winemaking.
The Aridus Tasting room in Willcox is at 145 N. Railview Ave. the winery is nearby. The old town Scottsdale tasting room is at 7173 E. Main St. 85251. For more information visit their website.
Shelves are stocked, menus have been printed and Merkin Vineyards have opened their wine bar in downtown Scottsdale. The Jerome based winery flipped the “Open” sign Thursday March 14th as the bureaucracy paperwork was complete.
Wines from Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars will be poured their 7 days week. The location has a rich history in the Scottsdale wine community as the tasting room is housed in what was the wine eccentric restaurant FnB and most recently cocktail bar Counter Intuitive.
Merkin Vineyards wines
You’ll find mostly Spanish and Italian varietals poured at the wine bar from high elevation vineyards. Grapes for Merkin and Caduceus wines are grown at the wineries estate vineyards in Verde Valley and Willcox. The vineyards encompass 110 acres and the wines are made by MJ & Jen Keenan, Tim White and Erin Center. All wines are sustainably made.
A small menu of fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses are available. The fruits and vegetables are grown at the wineries Verde Valley greenhouse, gardens and orchards. Other Arizona farmers provide for what they don’t grow.
Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale is open Sunday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. It’ s at 7133 E. Stetson Dr. Scottsdale 85251 and you can visit their website for more information.
Celebrity chefs, food, wine and sunshine what could be better. Not much for five days in April when the 3rd annual Nirvana Food & Wine Festival returns to Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa. The popular culinary event celebrates food, wine and cocktails with tastings, events, parties and dinners.
Making their return this year will be celebrity chefs Robert Irvine and Todd English along with Jose Garces. They will join local chefs Christopher Gross, Matt Carter, Scott Contant and host Beau MacMillan.
Two exiting new events have been added to this years calendar Wood, Wine & Wagyu and Nirvana After Party at Fat Ox. Below are all the details of all the events scheduled.
Wood, Wine & Wagyu
Hosted by Chef Beau MacMillan, David Rose and Jason Asher; presented by Woodford Reserve and ZD Wines
Wednesday, April 24, 7-10 p.m.; Paradise Views Patio & Lower Lawn; $225 plus tax per person
Nirvana 2019 will kick off with an intimate, sit-down, family-style dinner featuring Wagyu beef from Snake River Farms cooked over a wood fire by local and national chefs. The dinner also includes craft cocktails made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, specialty wines, a Davidoff cigar reception, and live entertainment.
Master of Taste Dinner 1
Hosted by legendary winemaker Tuck Beckstoffer and Top Chef Alum Bruce Kalman
Wednesday, April 24; 7-10 p.m.; Villa Mariposa; $350 plus tax per person; limited availability
The Master of Taste dinners are intimate culinary gatherings that pair top regional and local chefs with a notable winemaker. The first of four such evenings puts the spotlight on Napa’s Tuck Beckstoffer Wines with pioneering winemaker Tuck himself playing host. The dinner experience will be elevated by Sanctuary’s stunning valley views, seen through the dramatic glass walls of Villa Mariposa, one of Sanctuary’s ultra-exclusive private homes.
Bourbon Street Blues
Hosted by Food Network’s Marc Murphy and Dead Rabbit’s Jillian Vose
Thursday, April 25, 7-9 p.m.; Infinity Pool and Lawn; $135 plus tax per person
This grand New Orleans-style celebration returns for a second year, with guests encouraged to don Mardi Gras-inspired attire while mingling and noshing on an extraordinary spread of food and drinks. Live music will set the beat for guests to dance while the Valley’s top mixologists set the party vibe with inspired cocktail creations.
Master of Taste Dinner 2
Phenom winemaker Jesse Katz pairs up with Chef Dustin Valette
Thursday, April 25; 7-10 p.m.; Villa Mariposa; $350 plus tax per person; limited availability
Nirvana’s second winemaking evening features rising star Jesse Katz, innovative founder of Aperture Cellars from Alexander Valley, California, which focuses on Bordeaux varietals and demonstrates an expression of art both inside the bottle and out, and the highest-rating varietal from California, Devil Proof Vineyards.
Flutes & Coops
Hosted by Todd English and D Vincent Williams and the Nashville All-Stars; presented by Veuve Cliquot
Friday, April 26, 6:30-7:15 p.m. (VIP), 7:15-10 p.m. (general admission); The Views Ballroom, Paradise Views Patio and Lower Lawn; $225 plus tax VIP/ $150 plus tax GA per person
Fried chicken gets fancy during this Champagne-focused soiree, featuring Veuve Clicquot and some of the country’s biggest culinary talent. Festival-goers can book VIP admission to enjoy 45 minutes of personal time with their favorite participating chefs and mixologists including Bar Brawl’s Season 2 champion Kiefer Gilbert.
Master of Taste Dinner 3
Hosted by winemakers Dan Kosta and Rich Aurilia with Chef François de Melogue
Friday, April 26, 7-10 p.m.; Villa Mariposa; $500 plus tax per person; limited availability
Nirvana’s third Master of Taste Dinner brings together legendary winemaker Dan Kosta of AldenAlli (Sonoma, California) with former San Francisco Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia, now a partner in Red Stitch Wine Group (Napa Valley, California).
Nirvana After Party at Fat Ox
Chef host Matt Carter welcomes celebrity mixologist Jillian Vose, Jason Asher and Micah Olsen with top chef Bruce Kalman
Friday, April 26, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Fat Ox, 6316 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale; $125 plus tax per person
Nirvana’s first-ever late-night event will be an exclusive, roped-off, live-DJ affair at one of Scottsdale’s sexiest restaurants. Fat Ox chef Matt Carter and mixologist Jillian Vose, formerly of Sanctuary’s own jade bar and now owner of New York City’s hottest cocktail bar, The Dead Rabbit, will headline the see-and-be-seen party. Guests will rub shoulders with the best of Nirvana’s celebrity chefs and local mixologists, including Jason Asher, owner of Counter Intuitive and Undertow and former GQ Bombay Sapphire’s “most inspired bartender”.
Celebrity Golf Tournament
Hosted by The Golf Channel’s Matt Ginella
Saturday, April 27, 8 a.m. registration and 9 a.m. tee; Mountain Shadows; $$400 per player
Neighboring Mountain Shadows’ Short Course will play host to Nirvana’s hugely popular celebrity golf tournament, hosted by Matt Ginella of The Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. Famous faces from the worlds of sports, food and drink will pair up with foursomes for a day on the greens geared towards fun, including delectable small bites, a luncheon buffet and beverages.
Rosé Parté at Wrigley Mansion
Wrigley Mansion’s Chefs Christopher Gross and Jamie Hormel welcome celebrity chef Robert Irvine, Lindsay Autry, mixologist Libby Lingua, the Bella Twins and musical guests The Potash Twins
Saturday, April 27, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Wrigley Mansion, 2501 E. Telawa Trail, Phoenix; $150 plus tax per person
The rosé-all-day trend continues with Rosé Parté, returning to Nirvana by popular demand, this time to Phoenix’s storied and elegant iconic mansion, Wrigley Mansion. Also returning to the Nirvana scene are The Bella Twins, Nikki and Brie Bella of WWE fame, stars of E! Network’s Total Bellas, and the inspiration behind Belle Radici wines. Guests will enjoy fabulous pairings of rosé and fine food while exploring the historic environs.
Best of the West
Hosted by Chef Scott Conant and celebrity mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim
Saturday, April 27, 6:30-7:15 p.m. (VIP), 7:15-10 p.m. (general admission); elements, Praying Monk, jade bar, Sunset Garden, Paradise Views Patio and Lower Lawn; $250 plus tax VIP/$175 plus tax GA per person
The West’s most beloved Arizona chefs will gather for an evening send-off, celebrating Nirvana 2019 with a spectacular walk-around tasting event and an incredible variety of wines. VIP attendees gain early access and extra time with the chefs.
Master of Taste Dinner 4
Hosted by Tim Martin of Tusk Wines
Saturday, April 27, 7-10 p.m.; Villa Mariposa; $500 plus tax per person; limited availability
Nirvana’s final Master of Taste Dinner spotlights winemaker Tim Martin, founder of Napa’s luxury wine brands Tusk Estates, Immortal Estate and Belle Radici. Tim joins Arizona legends Chuck Wiley, Mark Tarbell, Vincent Guerithault, and Alex Stratta for this amazing night of food, wine and special music guests.
Tequila & Tortillas
Hosted by Iron Chef Jose Garces and renowned artist Genero Garcia
Sunday, April 28, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; elements, Praying Monk, jade bar, Sunset Garden, Paradise Views Patio and Lower Lawn; $150 plus tax per person
¡Salud! Tequila is the star of Nirvana’s farewell brunch featuring Southwestern specialties and the best of the blue agave plant. Live music makes it a fiesta to remember as Nirvana bids adios to its 2019 showcase.
With all of the development in downtown Phoenix in recent years it’s hard to recognize it let alone keep track of the new business’s that have opened up. One of those business’s is GenuWine Arizona, a wine and beer bar on Roosevelt Row. I recently found myself at GenuWine as owners Emily Rieve and Lindsey Schoenemann were finalizing plans to celebrate their first anniversary.
Emily and Lindsey are two mid-westerners who found themselves teaching together in Gilbert. They enjoyed working together on school lessons and wanted to share their passion to collaborate on something unique. The wine enthusiasts decided on a self-serve wine bar and GenuWine Arizona was born.
What’s going on at GenuWine Arizona
Focusing on mostly Arizona wines, beers and foods guests can make their way up to the wine wall for a taste, 1/2 glass or full glass of over 24 wines. I opted for 4 tastes of Arizona wines on my visit. Local craft beers are on tap and by the bottle if you’re in the mood for the suds.
The laid back atmosphere offers board games to play, couches and chairs to talk with friends and people watch along Roosevelt. A few seats at the bar allow for you to enjoy your drink while chatting with Emily and Lindsey when their not with their guests. If hungry you can build your own cheese board.
Weekly events include beer and tastings, unique classes(cheese making), live music and a comedy night. On First Friday’s you can usually count on a beer or wine tasting and food truck outside. Happy hour is Mon.-Fri. from 3-6 p.m. with $2 off full glasses of wine, draft beer and small plates.
There’s plenty of room for private parties and a wine club is in the works.
For a calendar of events and lists of wine and beer they’re pouring visit their website.
GenuWine Arizona is at 888 N. 1st Ave. Suite 101 Phoenix 85003. 602-682-7494. Hours Mon. – Thurs. 3 – 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 1 -11 p.m and Sun. 1 -9 p.m.
We all remember our first love, first car and first winery we visited right. I remember the first two but the wine geek in me remembers visiting Hess Collection Winery on Mount Veeder in 1997. It was the first winery I had ever visited early in my wine career. Hess Collection will be one of 11 wineries pouring their wines at “A Taste of Mount Veeder” on Saturday March 2nd. The tasting will be at Troon Country Club from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
About Mount Veeder
The Mount Veeder appellation is part of the Mayacamas range on the western side of Napa Valley. It borders Sonoma County to the west and the Carneros appellation to the south. From vineyards a top the mountain on a clear day you can see San Francisco to the south as I did from Rubisow-Sargent’s vineyards on another visit to Napa Valley.
In 1993 it was designated an American Viticultural Area(AVA) and covers 16,000 acres with only 1,000 acres under vine. Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 64% of grapes grown. Mount Veeder represents 1.3% of wine production in Napa Valley.
It was the first AVA to grow Petit Verdot, have all 5 Bordeaux varietals planted at one vineyard and produce a wine with all 5 Bordeaux varietals.
This will be a unique opportunity to taste these wines in one place as some of the wineries are not open to the public. Participating wineries will be…..
Boich Family Cellar
The Hess Collection Winery
O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery
Random Ridge Robert Craig Winery
Rudd Estate Winery
Yates Family Vineyards
Find wines that you like and you’ll be able to order them for your collection. Tickets are $75 in advance and include gourmet hor d’oeuvres. Tickets will be $100 at the door. To purchase tickets visit their website or call 707-266-1296 before they sell out.
Troon Country Club is at 25000 N. Windy Walk Dr. Scottsdale 85255.
Halfway between Los Angles and San Francisco sits Paso Robles with over 40,000 acres of vineyards and 200 wineries. One of those wineries is Tackitt Family Vineyards where Dead Zed Red is made. Dead Zed Red is a blend of 36% Grenache, 30% Zinfandel, 27% Syrah, 6% Mourvedre and 1% Viognier made by winemaker Leon Tackitt.
The red blend is the brainchild of wine industry veteran John Burke who released who started Vineyard Squadron Wines. Dead Zed Red is the first wine under the new label and was released in early 2018. In addition to John and Leon’s love for wine both served in the Navy. Leon learned about wine and learned to make wine while still in the Navy. Once he retired after serving for 27 years he embarked on his new love and second career.
Leon’s and his wife Cindy’s wines have garnered many accolades for their wines over the years.
The wine is aged in French and American oak. I tasted it with a burger and they went well together with bright fruit, medium body and mild tannins. It is also best paired with hearty meats & pizza.
Big Chris of The Church of Horror designed Dead Zed Red’s label. He is known for his work in the horror genre for video game design and art development in the music industry for bands KoRn and System of a Down.
I recently sat down for lunch at Hearth ’61 with the President of Silverado Vineyards, Russ Weis, when he was in Phoenix. We tasted 3 wines while Russ told us the Silverado story, about life in Napa Valley surviving recent wildfires and about the wines.
Russ was practically born into the wine business as the son of grape growers in Madera, California. Russ started his career in Napa Valley in 1987 at Christian Brothers Winery then went on to Robert Mondavi Winery in 1993. He joined Silverado Vineyards in 2004.
The Silverado Vineyards story
Silverado Vineyards was started in 1981 by Diane Disney and her husband, former football player and movie producer Ron Miller. The 6 historic vineyards owned by the winery date back to the 1800s and are located throughout Napa Valley. The winery is currently owned by Ron and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with plans to keep it in the family for several more generations.
The wines are made by winemaker Jon Emmerich and associate winemaker Elena Franceschi. All wines are “Grown, Produced and Bottled by” the winery, one of a few Napa Valley wineries that can say that. A small portion of grapes are sold to other wineries.
With over 300 acres of vineyards the wines express the differing terroirs, giving each wine its unique complexity and character. The winery and home vineyard are in the Stags Leap District along the Silverado Trail.
Tasting the wines
During our lunch we tasted the 2016 Carneros Chardonnay and proprietary Cabernet Sauvignons GEO and SOLO from the 2014 vintage.
The chardonnay comes from the Vineburg and Firetree vineyards in the cooler southern part of Napa Valley. The wine is aged in French oak barrels with some in new oak. The wine is clean and well-balanced with oak and acidity. Bright fruit that the Carneros region is known for makes this a great wine to drink by itself or paired with food. It made a nice complement to our shrimp cocktail. The chardonnay is the winery’s second largest produced wine, at just under 10,000 cases.
The GEO Cabernet Sauvignon uses grapes grown on the Mt. George vineyard in Coombsville. The Millers bought the vineyard in 1987 and was the first vineyard planted to grapes in the Coombsville AVA. A splash of Petit Verdot is blended before the wine was aged for almost 2 years in mostly French oak. The wine was soft and enjoyable with good tannins giving you the typical Cabernet mouthfeel taste of blackberries and cocoa and drinks well. Only 2,200 cases are made.
The SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon was the last of the 3 wines we tasted. Made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is named for the fact it’s made from a single clone. The Silverado- Disney Heritage clone was given “Heritage” status by UC Davis because the new clone was carefully observed and had adapted to the unique soil of the Stags Leap District. It’s one of only 3 Cabernets with this status and the only one from Stags Leap District.
The bold fruit comes from the Silverado Vineyard and offers currants, cassis and plum nuances. It’s aged in 100% French oak with 38% new oak. The wine pairs well with grilled red meats and roasts. 2,400 cases were produced.
Visiting the winery
Silverado Vineyards is open daily by appointment. The winery is at 6121 Silverado Trail, Napa CA. 94458. For reservations call 707-257-1770 or visit their website.
Everybody was surprised to wake up in October to hear that Kazimierz Wine Bar had closed the night before. The iconic wine bar in downtown Scottsdale was a favorite “speakeasy” for the wine crowd and fans of live jazz. The bar gets a new lease on life this week as restaurateur Tommy Plato takes over the space opening Kazimierz Wine and Whiskey Bar.
Plato founded The Gelato Spot and owns Second Story Liquor Bar around the corner from Kazimierz. The atmosphere will be the same but guests will see a new decor, furniture, a VIP area and whiskey program.“Peter was a pioneer in Old Town and what he created here with Kazimierz in this space is exactly what Scottsdale needs,” said Tommy Plato. “I’m excited to keep this tradition alive but with an updated twist on a high-end establishment where you can go to have after-dinner drinks, light bites and great live music all night long in an upscale environment that caters to wine and cocktail enthusiasts,” said Plato.
New menu at Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar
Happy hour will be offered daily from 4 – 7 p.m. and a new full menu will be available until closing. Plato will introduce a new chef, menu and Whiskey Ambassador Program when the Kazimierz opens on Thursday, January 24th.
The new menu will include charcuterie plates, bruschetta, oysters, flatbreads and more. Ingredients will be sourced from local purveyors including Noble Bread and Chula Seafood. Desserts are Plato’s strong point from his experience at The Gelato Spot.
Over 100 wines and 500 whiskeys, bourbons, ryes offerings from the U.S., Scotland, Ireland and Japan will be available. Included will be hand-picked selections and rare bottlings.
“Kazimierz Wine and Whiskey Bar is the perfect blend of good food, upscale atmosphere and the best wine and whiskey selection in Old Town. I am so excited to bring a new late-night concept to a familiar place that has had an incredible following for many years,” said Plato.
Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar is at 7137 E. Stetson Dr. Scottsdale 85251. 480-495-3004
Phoenix restaurants are running around crazy the next 10 days with the holiday rush in 5th gear. After 2019 begins restaurateurs and staff take a needed breather it will be back to serving hungry visitors and locals. The Market + Bar at Jennifer’s jumps back into it on January 9th with a wine dinner with Switchback Ridge Winery.
The four-course dinner will be paired with a unique menu from chef Jennifer Russo and wines made by legendary Napa Valley winemaker Bob Foley. Founder Kelly Peterson will be flying in from Calistoga to co-host the dinner and speak about the wines.
Switchback Ridge sources all the grapes for their wines from the families Peterson Family Vineyard run by Kelly’s mom and dad, John & Joyce Peterson. The winery makes 3 red wines with a small production of less than 3,000 cases.
Switchback Ridge Winery pairing menu
The big & bold red wines require a bold menu and it is as follows……
Hourglass Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Grilled Prawns with Bottarga Risotto
Giant prawns seasoned with flakey salt and Gilroy garlic brushed with extra virgin olive oil lightly grilled until color bursts creamy Italian arborio risotto with vanilla bean backnotesserved with grated Mediterranean bottarga lime and lemon zest
Switchback Ridge Merlot 2014
Roasted Breast of Duck with Hoisin
Breast of duck, seared to mid-rare with a hoisin glaze Yukon gold potato gratin, braised Belgian endive and fresh mint leaves
Switchback Ridge Cabernet 2014
Bing cherry Demi-Glace over Lamb Loin
Boneless Colorado rack of lamb roasted to a warm mid-rare served with a bing cherry demi-glace and tender cooked bulgur wheat and snipped fresh watercress
Side by Side
Switchback Ridge Petite Syrah 2015 & Switchback Ridge Vintage Petite Syrah
Deconstructed Bleu Cheese Cheesecake
Honey black pepper macerated blackberries layered with bleu cheese cheesecake with vanilla wafer crust
The dinner is $95 per person at starts at 6:30 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling (602)626-5050.
The 6th location of The Whining Pig Beer & Wine Bar has opened in north Phoenix at Desert Ridge Marketplace. Across from Dave & Buster’s The Whining Pig will be the neighborhoods go to wine and beer bar that occupies more than 4,000 square feet.
The friendly and knowledgeable staff pours wines from around the world and over 125 craft beers from rotating taps. A selection of grilled cheese sandwiches and meat & cheese plates are available off the limited menu.
Vintage boards games and other forms of entertainment make the place good hang out with friends and family.
The bar opens daily at 1 p.m. and stays open til the late evening and early morning hours.