Wine & Travel

Snooth User: JenniferT

Arizona?!

Posted by JenniferT, Apr 26.

Hoping that some of you might be able to help me out. I'm going down to AZ for vacation next week. I'm really only broadly planning which areas to go to now, and I really want to nail down some plans so I can have some idea of what we're doing! 

I know that there is some wine tourism in Arizona. Do you guys know anything about the wines or wineries there? Even if the wines are not really so competitive in a developing industry, I was thinking the tasting/touring experience would be quite personal. I also think the terroir and climate in AZ wine growing zone(s) must be very specific....it would be really neat to see how that translates into the wine and maybe even learn to recognize them. 

Once again, I'd greatly appreciate some feedback.

1 2 next

Replies

0
470
Reply by dvogler, Apr 26.

I wish I could go and get some of that sun with you!  But I can't help you with the wine!  :)

434
1966
Reply by EMark, Apr 26.

A few years ago I made a trip down to the Temecula Valley and posted a report here on the Forum.  Jon Derry responded with something like "Thank you for doing God's work."  I have to say I feel the same about your impending quest, Jennifer.  Good luck.  Not to discourage you, but take a look at this review that was posted on Snooth, today.  This is not the worst that I can say about this winery.

In all honesty, Darren, I think she could travel a bit closer if she is just looking for sun.  In spite of the hail in Healdsburg (and we did get some rain down here) it is still pretty sunny in most of California.

0
470
Reply by dvogler, Apr 26.

Yes EMark, I lived in Redding for two years! It's probably 33 degrees (oops 90 in your degrees!) there right now!  I'm sure the hail was unusual.  I'm sure Jen has some reason for Arizona!

Good job finding that review!  Wow, maybe the others are family!?

75
2285
Reply by JonDerry, Apr 26.

The main draw in Arizona wine, at least from a pop culture stand point is Caduceus Cellars, in Jerome AZ. It was founded in 2004 by Maynard James Keenan of that band, Tool. They even made a documentary of the plantings and struggle to establish the vineyards, called "Blood Into Wine". Definitely worth a look.

110
314
Reply by JenniferT, Apr 26.

Thanks for the feedback, as always! I will let you guys know what I end up doing.

110
314
Reply by JenniferT, Apr 26.

I actually saw that doc a few years ago. I mostly recall being impressed by his mix of craziness and tenacity. 

I wonder if they play Tool in their tasting room? :) 

0
2634
Reply by gregt, Apr 27.

Jen - there are a few wineries down there. Calahan (sp?) is one of the better-known, but there are others. They've planted Tempranillo, Syrah, and many other better-known grapes.

They have, or they had, a real problem with Pierce's disease, and that's one thing that's kept Arizona from being a better-known wine making state. But let us know what you find.

And speaking of Temecula, I was shocked at what I found there. There's one winery that did exactly what I always wished someone would do - decided NOT to plant Cab, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, etc, but to plant grapes better-known for growing in hotter climes.

Things like Nero d'Avola for example, or Aglianico. And they make very credible versions. Good for them. Place is called Cougar winery. I went there thinking that it was a promising name, but I actually stayed for the wine.

110
314
Reply by JenniferT, Apr 27.

Thanks, Greg! I'm not sure if we'll make it over to Temecula from AZ, but I'll keep that in mind in case things change. 

 

434
1966
Reply by EMark, Apr 28.

Greg it seems to me that the Temecula growers are trying to find the variety that does well and produces a wine that can be acclaimed.  They are not there, yet.  So, most of them, I believe, are at least trying some of the lesser known varieties.  Yes, you can find CS, Merlot and Chardonnay, but if anybody is doing PN, I'm pretty sure they are buying grapes from some other geography.  I think most of the growers know it is too darned hot for PN.  I also suspect the same about Chardonnay made by any Temecula winery--grapes from someplace and, so, the bottles are labeled "California," although, I think Callaway's Chardonnay is labeled "Central Coast."

It seems to me there is a lot of interest in Italian grapes.  Just about everybody is doing Sangiovese, and Mt. Palomar had a respectable Cortese when I visited there two years ago..

0
2634
Reply by gregt, Apr 29.

Didn't know that there were so many people doing Italian grapes. Seems like a good idea. From the little I saw, it seemed like people were doing a lot of Syrah and some Grenache, but the few I had weren't all that great and it's probably too warm for Syrah as well.

The other thing that was surprising was that people were planting so many grape varieties in the same vineyard. Maybe that's because as you say, they're looking for what does well. But it's weird to see Cab planted next to Riesling next to Sauv Blanc next to Zin.

The main problem they're going to have in selling the wines more broadly seems to be that the producers are building a business model on tourism first. That's not a problem for the business, but it's a problem if they ever want to make good wine that anyone will care about because the tourists aren't there to taste wine. They come for the party atmosphere. Big busloads for bachelorette parties and family outings.

None of them really care much about what they're drinking - it could just as well be margaritas. In Napa, the wine came first and then they figured out that people might like to visit places where the wine came from. Here, as you say, there isn't anything really acclaimed, so the draw is only tourism. Of course, if I were selling out my production every year to tourists who overpaid for wine that was second rate, that's exactly what I'd do. They're pretty savvy about the tourist thing as well - they know what they're doing and recently made changes to their zoning rules to prevent hotels from coming in, as well as big shopping centers, etc. They want to keep the region's rural atmosphere intact. Even ruled against some of the horse ranches that predate the wines by a long shot, because the smell of the ranch bothers the wine tourists.

434
1966
Reply by EMark, Apr 29.

I agree that I saw a lot of Syrah and Zinfandel.  I don't recall seeing Grenache, but I do recall seeing Cinsault.

You are spot on regarding the tourism business model.  I think they are looking for day/weekend visitors from metro Los Angeles and San Diego.  I have a friend who goes with a group every year to visit wineries in the day and, then, visit the local casino in the evenings.

I'm sure that there are some dedicated winemakers down there, but I really could not tell you which ones "have the passion" and which ones are skating by as you say selling out their production to the buses and limos.

0
12
Reply by tradewater, Apr 30.

I mean no offense to those winemakers ( and I have certainly not tried all the offerings ), but in a half dozen visits to the Temecula area, I have yet to find a wine that pleases my palate.

Some of the olive oil is decent, though...         :-)

20
2496
Reply by Richard Foxall, May 1.

I was going to mention Callahan, but I'm not sure of the spelling either.

GregT, interesting what you are finding out there in Temecula.  I really agree that wineries do themselves a disservice focusing on the tourism model over winemaking, and I also agree that it's time that Cali winemakers really think about matching the plantings to what they can grow best, not to what they drank somewhere and always wanted to make themselves, but can't really buy land in Bordeaux or Napa.  C'mon, folks, open your minds.  Last thing the world needs is a bunch more mediocre Cab...

As to weird mixes, how can you explain Smith-Madrone, which plants Riesling and Cab up there on the mountain?  And seems to do pretty well with both--based on GdP's writings, since I haven't had the Riesling?

434
1966
Reply by EMark, May 1.

Fox, Terra Valentine is a neighbor of Smith-Madrone on Spring Mountain, and I tasted a very good dry Riesling when I visited there almost exactly one year ago.  (Later that evening Mrs. EMark and I had a terrific dinner in Glen Ellen with a couple of really great Snooth guys.)  It was good enough to convince me to buy a couple bottles They might have been inspired by S-M.

Jennifer, I really wish I could add something germane to your impending trip.  It looks like you are going to have to be the Snooth trailblazer in Arizona.

0
1
Reply by Snoother 1499025, May 1.

There's tons of wine in AZ, and what we lack in quantity we make up for in extreme quality! Check out the Verde Valley area for tons of wineries and vineyards, namely Page Springs Cellars, AZ Stronghold, Pillsbury, Fire Mountain, Burning Tree cellars and a bevy of others. Down in the south east corner of the state are large planting areas and plenty of fantastic wineries as well, my personal favorite being Keeling-Schaefer. Not much problem with Pierces disease, we have a little (LIKE EVERY STATE), but mostly Maynard's got hit. Arizona is now gaining INTERNATIONAL recognition for its wines, even though CA loves to hate :)

20
2496
Reply by Richard Foxall, May 2.

AZ Snoother, We don't hate, at least I don't!  When it comes to wine, I'm a fan of good wine from anywhere.  France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the odd German and Aussie, heck, I had a Slovenian Furmint recently.  South African Chenin?  Got that.  It just has to be tasty and reasonably priced.

EMark, although Smith Madrone is old and Terra Valentine is younger, at least some of the TV vineyards are older than Smith Madrone's, since S-M was founded in 1971 and TV is producing wine from the old Yverdon vineyard, which produced wine as early as 1971. However, I noticed a few months ago that Yverdon, both the vineyard and the winery (but not TV or the owners' Wurtele Vineyard) were purchased by Jackson Family Estates.  We'll see if they bring back the label.  Yverdon was the first wine I remember my parents buying from Trader Joe's when it really was close outs and weirdly shaped pieces of cheese, that was about '76 at the store in Santa Ana. I remember it was really different from the jug wine they usually drank.  (Yes, I had some, too--remember, I started drinking wine when I was quite a bit under age.)

434
1966
Reply by EMark, May 3.

Fox, I did not know about the changes at TV.  Thanks for posting the link.  I do remember the Yverdon label, and, probably, had it once or twice.  

Gosh, your family shopped at the Santa Ana Trader Joe's--at the corner of Main and 14th?  It ain't there anymore.  Next you'll be telling me where UCSB is.

Just returned from the Chino Hills Trader Joe's where I picked up some traditionally shaped St. Andre.

20
5821
Reply by dmcker, May 3.

"Next you'll be telling me where UCSB is."

Mark, ??

 

And Greg, who had the best Sangiovese in Temecula?

434
1966
Reply by EMark, May 3.

It's not the University of California at Santa Barbara. 

This is for Orange Countians, or refugees from Orange County.  However, specifically, it is best known among former and, I would imagine, current residents of the city of Santa Ana.

Returning to the wine theme, and humbly standing in for GregT, about 10 years ago, Mt Palomar had an outstanding Sangiovese that they bottled under their Castelletto label.  It received significant praise from several reviewers.  I bought a few bottles and enjoyed it a lot.   When I was Temecula a couple years ago, I visited Mt. Palomar, but was not nearly as impressed with their then current bottling. 

For what it's worth, the best Sangio I had that visit was from Hart.  However, I have to confess that I have a bias towards that winery.

20
5821
Reply by dmcker, May 4.

Rumor has it that Greg encountered what might even be the best North American sangiovese he's ever tasted on his recent Temecula trip. This is unconfirmed. Was trying to confirm it.   ;-)

1 2 next



Continue to the end of the thread to reply
Back to Categories

Popular Topics

Top Contributors This Month

324443 Snooth User: outthere
324443outthere
128 posts
680446 Snooth User: JonDerry
680446JonDerry
92 posts
847804 Snooth User: EMark
847804EMark
71 posts

Categories

View All





Snooth Media Network