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!

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