Arizona's Verde Valley Wine Trail
Cottonwood, AZ- When people hear “Arizona” they usually think about a cactus in the desert, or cowboys and Indians in the Wild West. Most people don’t think of vineyards or wineries on a wine trail, but it’s happened! Arizona’s first wine trail is in the high deserts of north-central Arizona in a region near Sedona known as the Verde Valley, about 100 miles from Phoenix. Details on the Verde Valley Wine Trail can be found at www.vvwinetrail.com.
The wineries on the wine trail are nestled between the communities of Sedona, Cottonwood, and Jerome. Currently there are four wineries: Page Springs Cellars, Alcantara Vineyards, Javelina Leap Vineyards, and Oak Creek Vineyards; and four tasting rooms: Caduceus Cellars, Jerome Winery, Arizona Stronghold Tasting Room, and the Pillsbury Wine Company Tasting Room North. The Wine Trail is continually expanding as new wineries and tasting rooms open up.
In March the new Arizona Stronghold Tasting Room opened in Old Town Cottonwood. Serving Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Page Springs Cellars, and Burning Tree Cellars wines, it is the perfect place to stop in for a tasting. Another tasting room across the street from Arizona Stronghold Tasting Room will open in April. The Pillsbury Wine Company Tasting Room North will serve wine from Pillsbury Wine Company, which has a vineyard in southern Arizona and Freitas Vineyards located in Cottonwood, near Sedona.
The Sedona/Verde Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Arizona with the extraordinary red rocks of Sedona and Mogollon Rim to the north and east, the scenic hills of artsy Jerome, the luscious Verde River and Oak Creek, and the Black Hills and Mingus Mountain dominating the western and southern portions of the valley. The valley is also rich with culture, art, and recreational activities. There are several state parks and national monuments in the area that allow for outdoor recreational opportunities. The Verde Valley is not only one of the most beautiful regions of Arizona, it is an exceptional place to grow grapes and make delicious Arizona wine.
Verde Valley as a wine region comes to the surprise of many people, but the Verde Valley is very comparable to many of the great wine growing regions throughout the world! The elevation and climate also contribute to the success of growing grapes. The Verde Valley is at the same elevation as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran, places where grapes were first domesticated and the first wine was made. The elevation is between 3,800 ft. and 5,000 ft. combined with the right latitude provides the optimal climate for growing grapes. It is hot during the day and a cold at night which stresses the grapes, the heat is required for sugar production and the cool nights is important for acid retention. Without the dramatic change in temperature the grapes will not develop complexity and character! You may not get the quantity that you would if you planted on a fertile plot of land but the quality is much better, and that is what winegrowers strive for to make great wine.
Rod Snapp, Javelina Leap Winemaker, says “Surprisingly, Arizona’s sunshine, heat, and the unique rocky soils of the Verde Valley are an excellent environment for growing grapes. The soils and stressful growing conditions force the vines to struggle to survive which causes the vines to put their energy into developing less abundant but higher quality, more intensely flavored fruit – just the characteristics the winemaker wants to craft great wine.”
This past year has been a great year for Arizona wine; Arizona wineries have been winning awards and getting recognition, and recently the Blood Into Wine film just came out. The Blood Into Wine documentary, about making wine in Arizona focuses on Maynard James Keenan (singer of Tool and owner of Caduceus Cellars) and Eric Glomski (owner of Page Springs Cellars) premiered February 19th, and is currently in theatres nationwide.
The Verde Valley, Arizona’s wine country is under-discovered but the people who have been to the region and tasted the wine it produces attest to its excellence – quite a few wines have won national awards for their quality. The wineries’ offerings include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Viognier, Rousanne, Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, just to name a few. Every winery has its own unique personality and distinct wines for visitors to discover at each stop along the Wine Trail.
To learn more, visit www.vvwinetrail.com
Combining creativity with sound business skills, Mike Finney has achieved a significant record of success in public relations, hospitality operations, marketing, and development. He serves as president of AZ Communications Group which he founded in 1996 to provide domestic & international tourism marketing and public relations services for communities and private sector businesses.