When I lived down in Tucson, I’d frequently go down to Sonoita and Elgin for wine tasting. I remember when Kief-Joshua opened his tasting room and was blown away by its beauty and by his wines. My first visit to Keeling Schaefer was at their vineyard by the Chiricahua Mountains, before they had their Willcox tasting room. What a drive! I was visiting with friends that had a wine shop in Sedona and we received an exceptionally warm welcome, a delicious wine tasting, plus a private tour of the vineyards.
Around 80% of the wine grapes produced in Arizona come from the new Willcox AVA (established in 2016) and the Sonoita AVA (our first AVA, established in 1984). Many vineyards up north source a portion of their grapes from the South also. Our beautiful Verde Valley has applied to become an AVA, and we’re looking forward to the day when that comes to fruition. With the number of new graduates from our Yavapai College dual program of enology and viticulture, the Verde Valley is blossoming with new plantings, winemakers and more 100% estate grown vineyards.
Because of the enormous amount of tourism Sedona and the Verde Valley receive, many of the Southern winemakers elected to open their tasting rooms in Cottonwood, and Jerome. Therefore, you’ll be able to sample a variety of Southern Arizona wines in our area also. Besides the vineyard specific tasting rooms, there are tasting rooms that specialize in an assortment of Arizona wines. So come for a visit. We’ve come a long way since my first Arizona vineyard experiences!
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours and is studying for her CSW and sommelier certificates.