Desert Wine from the wild west

The midday sun is burning the bone-dry ground, no wind provides some cooling. The thorn bushes on the surrounding hills look desolate, only the huge saguaro cacti proudly stretch their plump arms into the cloudless sky. For miles and miles the highway leads straight through the desert of the US-state of Arizona, now and then a restaurant advertises with big signs for hearty burger or Mexican tacos. Comfortable I lean to the bus windows and let the landscape fly by.

14_Arizona_Page Springs Vineyards_c_BrigitteBonder

But suddenly the monotonous beige turns into a colorful green. Zinfandel vines shine on gentle slopes, of the narrow Oak Creek splashes softly past the vineyards of the tiny town of Cottonwood. Finally we reach the new wine region “Verde Valley” about one and a half hours drive north of the capital Phoenix and we start with wine tasting.

11_Arizona_Page Springs Vineyards_c_BrigitteBonder

Page Springs Cellars
1500 N Page Springs Road

“Ten years ago we had to import all the grapes from California, now we have our own Syrah, Grenache and Morvedre in the valley,” Luke explains to me, pointing to the surrounding hills. “Cold nights provide crisp grape juice, here we have the world’s second largest day-night temperature difference.”

09_Arizona_Deb Wahl von der Oak Creek Vinery_c_BrigitteBonder

The Page Springs Vineyard is part of the “Verde Valley Wine Trail” which connects a dozen wineries and tasting rooms around the small town of Cottonwood. Only a few house numbers further down Deb Wahl serves beside red and white wine also liquor in her Oak Creek Vinery. She comes originally from South Africa but become famous for her cream sherry and port, because the hot Arizona sun provides the necessary sweetness.

Oak Creek Vineyard
1555 N Page Springs Road

08_Arizona_Javelina Leap Vinery _c_BrigitteBonder

Next door Cynthia Snapp serves award-winning wines at Javelina Leap.

Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery
1565 N Page Springs Road

The winemakers from the Verde Valley are mostly newcomers. They do not come from traditional winemaking families, but are pensioners, lawyers, pilots or rock stars. The region was known by the frontman of the metal band “Tool”. Together with the famous winemaker Eric Glomski of Page Springs Cellars Maynard Keenan founded the “Arizona Stronghold Vineyard”. In the old town of Cottonwood his wines can be tasted.

23_Arizona_Hauptstraße mit Probierstuben und Restaurants in Cottonwood_c_BrigitteBonder

While the straight main road seems like yet extinct in the late afternoon, in the evening many tourists stroll from one wine tasting to the next. You will find art galleries and antique shops in Cottonwood, that become also famous for his culinary highlights. Even organic food will be served. “Abbie`s Kitchen” picks the salad in their own garden and offers vegetarian and vegan dishes, at “Crema Cafe” ice cream and sorbet are freshly prepared.

26_Arizona_Biosalat aus Abbies Kitchen_c_BrigitteBonder

During one evening you can easily visit the four tasting rooms at the main street, I tried it! Start at Fire Mountain. The wines have names such as Wind, Earth, Fire or Tarantula Hawk!

17_Arizona_Probierstube bei Fire Mountain Wines_c_BrigitteBonder

Fire Mountain Wines
1010 N.Main Street.Cottonwood
Continue right next door at the Pillsbury Wine Company with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and the “Diva 2011”, a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Petite Sirah.18_Arizona_Probierstube Pillsbury_c_BrigitteBonder
Pillsbury Wine Company
1012 N.Main Street

At Burning Tree Mitch Levy serves the wine. The pensioner has turned his hobby into a career and pours Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon out of nice bottles with colorful labels. Late in the evening I take a last nightcap at Arizona Stronhold Vineard at the end of the long road.

21_Arizona_Mitch Levy von Burning Tree Cellars_c_BrigitteBonder

Burning Tree Cellars

1040 N.Main Street

  Further information:

Arizona Office of Tourism
1110 W. Washington Street, Suite 155
Phoenix, Arizona 85007


This text has been translated to the best of my knowledge into English.

Note: This trip was supported by the Arizona Office of Tourism. The report represents our own opinions.

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