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.
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.Page Springs Cellars 1500 N Page Springs Road Internet: www.pagespringscellars.com
“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.”
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 Cornville Internet: www.oakcreekvineyards.net
Next door Cynthia Snapp serves award-winning wines at Javelina Leap.Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery 1565 N Page Springs Road Cornville Internet: www.javelinaleapwinery.com
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.
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.
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!Fire Mountain Wines 1010 N.Main Street.Cottonwood Internet: www.firemountainwines.com 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. Pillsbury Wine Company 1012 N.Main Street Cottonwood Internet: www.pillsburywine.com
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.
Burning Tree Cellars1040 N.Main Street Cottonwood Internet: www.burningtreecellars.com
Further information:Arizona Office of Tourism 1110 W. Washington Street, Suite 155 Phoenix, Arizona 85007 www.arizonaguide.com
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.