Arizona wineries...the fact that wine can be grown in Arizona...and good wine at that...is a testament to the Arizona's varied climates and topography. Are you surprised? You have a lot of company... I didn't believe it first myself. Sure the two big cities, Phoenix and Tucson, are in the desert...but wine is grown in what is called the high desert areas of Arizona...with elevations between 3800 to over 6000 feet. This allows for the warm days and cool nights that are necessary for fine wines to be made during growing season. There are three main winegrowing regions in Arizona:the Verde Valley, the Willcox area and the Sonoita region.
Is this Napa Valley, no but the quality is improving every year.
Something you may not know but all lowere 48 states have wineries...not every varietal can be grown in each state but grapes thrive evrywhere.
The Verde Valley, in northern Arizona close to Sedona...a great place to visit with or without wine as an attraction...the vineyards located in this region are not located on the typical rolling hills that you might expect.
But there is water available for the grapes and those grown in this particular region have very intense flavors. Jerome, an old copper mining town located on a steep hillside overlooking Sedona and Cottonwood...is a great place to visit and taste some of this regions best wines.
Old town Cottonwood, is a great place to kick around...with tasting rooms on the main drag...just make sure you imbibe carefully or have a designated driver.
It is where I also fly fish with my buddies on Friday afternoons in the winter.
The region that produces the most grapes in Arizona, is located southeast of Tucson. Carlson Creek and Coronado Vineyards are recommended for a visit.
Wilcox is an easy, one hour, 60 mile drive from Tucson on Interstate 10.
Someone has to be first, in 1979 Dr. Gordon Dutt, of the University of Arizona, planted the first commercial vineyard in Arizona. The first experimental Vineyard in Arizona was started six years earlier by Dr. Dutt and Blake Brophy. The Sonoita vineyard, now produces over 10,000 gallons wine per year. Sonoita, is south ofTucson on Highway 83. When visiting these tasting rooms remember always to have a designated driver.