Arizona is known for its stunning natural attractions, high-end resorts, top-class golf courses, and a developing wine scene. Wine lovers should take note of the exciting wine-related events taking place in Arizona and plan a visit to the region.
With the increasing popularity of Arizona as a tourist destination and its growing reputation in the wine world, it’s important to keep in mind these insider tips for the ultimate wine-tasting experience in the desert and beyond.
Many people are surprised that grapes can grow successfully in the hot Arizona desert.
However, many people included in the Arizona Wine Growers Association reports that over 600,000 people visit wineries and taprooms in Arizona wine country each year. Although the southern desert is home to some excellent wine producers, the northern mountainous regions of the state also have noteworthy vineyards.
In total, there are 108 farm winery licenses in Arizona, with most being small business-owner operations in rural areas. If you are excited to try Sedona wine tasting, you can find more information about winery tours. Wine adventure can be a great life-time experience that will bring lovely and remarkable long-lasting memories!
A true oasis
Arizona’s wine regions may not be as well-known as Napa, Sonoma, or Willamette Valley, Oregon, but that’s what makes them feel like hidden gems. They are approachable and less snobby, which is perfect for both novice and experienced wine enthusiasts. During the visit, you will have a wonderful experience speaking with each vintner. They are all very friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to share their passion for their region. It is a refreshing experience that will make you plan your next trip back.
Arizona’s wine regions aren’t as widely known, which makes them feel a bit like an unrevealing secret. After all, this area is not one of the big three American winemaking spots, namely Napa, Sonoma, or Willamette Valley, Oregon. That means that it feels more approachable and less snobby, which is great for every type of person.
Arizona Wine Has A Long and Rich History
In his essay “Equal Age for Age: The Growth, Death, and Rebirth of an Arizona Wine Industry, 1700 – 2000,” wine historian Erik Berg delves into the history of viniculture in Arizona. Berg notes that the Spanish settlers and missionaries were the first to introduce viticulture to the lower Rio Grande of New Mexico in the 1600s.
The wine industry continued to grow for centuries until it was halted by Prohibition. However, the modern Arizona wine industry was revitalized in the early 1980s and has since expanded to multiple regions. This growth is evident in the over 100 vineyards that now exist in the state.
The Story Started In Sonoita
Sonoita, Arizona, holds a significant place in the history of winemaking in America. It was in Sonoita that the first modern commercial winery in Arizona after Prohibition was established, and the first American Viticulture Area (AVA) in the Southwest region was designated in 1984. Wine lovers who want to explore the early southern vineyards should visit Sonoita Vineyards, the oldest commercial winery in the state.
The vineyard was established in 1974, opened for public tours in 1983, and currently has over 30 acres of vines. Don’t miss out on trying their celebrated cabernet sauvignon. The area is located at an elevation of 4,500 to 5,200 feet.
Three Distinct Wine Regions That Are Waiting For You
If you are planning a trip to Arizona’s wine country, it is highly important to know that there are three main regions to consider. When you get to know all of them, it will be much easier for you to navigate what you want to explore and unlock the best-kept secrets of these incredible and attractive destinations. Whatever option you choose, you will be left speechless cause every single region of these ones will take your breath away.
The first one is Sonoita/Elgin, located in southern Arizona. This region includes the towns of Patagonia, Elgin, and Sonoita and is about an hour south of Tucson. According to the Arizona Wine Growers Association, the area is characterized by native grasslands covering rolling hills, with Arizona Oak, Arizona Ash, and Mesquite trees scattered throughout. The Valley is surrounded by several mountain ranges, including Santa Rita, Mustang, Whetstone, and Huachuca.
As a result, the soil in the Valley is a unique mixture of reddish-brownish gravelly loam. Keep in mind that temperatures in the summer can reach the 80s and 90s, and monsoon season typically occurs in late summer.
Moving on to the Willcox region, an officially designated AVA located in Arizona, where 75% of the state’s grapes are grown. This region is situated in southeastern Arizona, encompassing Turkey Creek, Pearce, Willcox, and Kansas Settlement. Cochise and Graham are the major producing counties. Visitors should note that the monsoon season falls in July and August.
According to the Arizona Wine Growers Association, the vineyards are mainly located in the Sulphur Springs Valley and along the mountain bases. To the east are the Chiricahua Mountains and Dos Cabeza Mountains, and to the west are the Dragoon Mountains and Cochise Stronghold. The Willcox Playa is a vast dry lake that belongs to the Sonoran Desert ecoregion. Travelers may find it interesting to know that thousands of sandhill cranes roost in the area during the winter.
The northern Verde Valley is the third wine-growing region in the state and is on the list for its AVA label. Growers in the area are optimistic about its upcoming official designation. Sedona, Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Cornville, Rimrock, Page Springs, and Camp Verde are all considered part of the Verde Valley.
According to the AWGA, this area is north of Phoenix and about a two-hour car ride away, with elevations ranging from 3,000 to 5,500 feet. Wine-growing operations are located in various communities, both large and small, in the mountains and near Oak Creek and the Verde River. Visitors can expect afternoon rain storms during the monsoon season in July and August.