Although Arizona wine has come a long way over the years, in both taste and recognition, it’s still not the first place that most people think of when it comes to top wine producing regions. So the real question is: why drink Arizona wine? What makes it special and why should it be at the top of your list when you go searching for your next bottle of wine?
While the Arizona wine industry was formed in the 1980’s, it took over twenty years before people really began using the region to produce grapes and understanding that amazing wine could be produced on Arizona soil. Most people when they think of Arizona immediately think of hot desert heat and cacti galore, but in fact this state in more varied in climate than most people know and there are a few regions in Arizona that have ideal climates for vineyards. The three most famous of those regions are Wilcox, Sonoita, and the Verde Valley. While there are a few other places in Arizona where wine can be and is produced, these three regions make up the large majority of wine acreage in the state.
The weather in these areas creates a microclimate with good temperatures, soil, and water that help produce grapes that turn into great wine. Each wine growing region in Arizona is slightly different because of the elevation, soil, typical weather, average rainfall, etc. Sonoita, located in Santa Cruz County, has been compared to the Burgundy region of France, and is home to some of the longest established wineries in Arizona. Wilcox, located in Cochise County, produces a wide variety of wines and the grapes produced here are used in wines all across the state. This region can be compared to the Rhone Valley in France, and the grapes grown in Wilcox are most known for being produced in soil rich in volcanic ash. Verde Valley grapes are similarly also produced in volcanic ash soil, giving them a complexity in flavor that bodes well to varietals such as Syrahs and Sangioveses.
Wineries and wine tasting rooms are popping up in major and small cities across Arizona, and Arizona wines are beginning to gain recognition and popularity among wine drinkers. This trend is not only exciting for those of us that like to drink and support local, but it is also bringing in tourism and excitement from other out of state wine lovers as well. This idea of drinking local, supporting the Arizona wine industry, and building even more excitement around this growing wine region, was what drove us to start the Grand Canyon Wine Company and our Tasting Room in Downtown Williams.
The Grand Canyon Wine Company works with local Arizona wineries to produce our own wines, selected each year to reflect what has grown well in the region and what we want to showcase. In our Tasting Room, located on Historic Route 66, we not only feature our own wines but also many other Arizona wines. We have whites, reds, roses, sparkling, and everything in between that is produced within Arizona state lines. It’s our hope that by supporting and offering local wines to travelers from near and far that we can help everyone see why they should drink Arizona wine and why it should be one of the first places that comes to mind when you think of wine producing regions.