All about Arizona Wineries

Would you answer this question “true” or “false”…..There are wineries in Arizona and they are growing their own grapes. I suspect most people would answer “false” given the hot climate of Arizona, but the answer is actually “true.” Recently I had the opportunity to explore the Sedona area, and while there learned about nearby wineries. So, of course, I had to visit and sample!! Here is what I discovered….

There are over 50 wineries throughout Arizona. The wineries are located in 4 areas….Verde Valley (near Sedona), Sonoita / Elgin Wine Country and Willcox Wine Country (both near Tucson) and Phoenix. All but Phoenix are grape growing regions. The regions all grow a variety of grapes….from Sauvignon Blanc to Zinfandel. Similar to Colorado, the wine regions are at a higher elevation and have that hot day and cool night temperature change.

What is interesting to note, is that Arizona was going grapes and making wine before it was a USA state. Unfortunately all the grape vines were destroyed in order for Arizona to become the 48th state in 1912.  Because of this, winemaking is only a few decades into the process.

In the Verde Valley wine region there are 4 wineries just a ½ hour drive west of Sedona, near Cornville and very close to I-17. Three of these wineries have their own tasting rooms that are open for sampling. All of them are growing their own grapes.

Since I don’t have to be “politically correct” regarding my comments on AZ wineries, here is my review…..My first stop was at Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery. Tastings are $2 each or $3 for premium wines. Of the 4 wines I tasted the Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel received a very good rating. Their bottle prices range between $28 and $44. My next stop was at Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery. They received the best ratings for not only their wines, but also the friendless of the tasting room staff and cost of tastings….$10 for 5. In my ratings, only 1 wine received less than a very good or higher. Their bottle prices range from $24 to $35. My last stop was at Page Springs Cellars. It was packed with people, had a waiting list for both the tasting room and its restaurant, and I felt like I was in Napa versus Arizona. The winery has chosen the wines for your tasting in 3 categories….chilled, reds, or a combination. Most of their wines were blends and rated a good or lower score. I don’t know what their bottle prices are and could only sample a small selection of the wines they produce. Tasting price was $11 for 5 samples and you got to keep the glass.

Visiting the wineries in Arizona was a fun and educational experience. I hope the next time you are in the state you take the opportunity to explore a winery or two!!

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