Arizona Wineries AZ
Arizona is globally known for the Grand Canyon and spectacular desert landscapes. Given that, the state is probably one of the last places on earth that people would associate with wine, but think again! Arizona is home to more than 100 vineyards across the state, producing Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and more. In fact, Arizona wines have been served at the White House since 1989!
While the history of wine in Arizona is relatively short compared to, say, California, the Grand Canyon state more than makes up for that with its one-of-a-kind growing conditions that create uniquely-flavored grapes.
Arizona has a diverse climate that includes dry heat and abundant sunshine and the prime grape-growing regions are located in the Northern and Southern, high desert areas of the state.
Located about an hour’s drive south of Tucson, the Sonoita-Elgin area is home to Arizona’s first winery – Sonoita Vineyards – which was started in 1973. This region is currently the only one in the state to be federally recognized as an “American Viticultural Area.” In fact, it was one of the first locations in the nation to be granted AVA status and was hailed by USA Today as one of the top ten wine trails in the nation.
Willcox wineries – one hour’s drive east of Tucson – produces 74% of the wine grapes grown in the state, more than all other regions combined. Like the Sonoita-Elgin area, the Willcox region boasts an altitude of over 4,000 feet, which means warm days and cooler nights for grapes to thrive. Many varieties from Mediterranean Europe – including Syrah, Grenache, Sangiovese, Zinfadel and Cabernet Sauvignon – are grown here.
Verde Valley Area
In Northern Arizona, about two hours’ drive north of Phoenix, the Verde Valley, consisting of the towns of Jerome, Clarkdale, and Camp Verde is home to numerous vineyards and wineries, including those of Maynard James Keenan – noted lead singer of the rock bands Tool and A Perfect Circle – who has fashioned himself into something of a grape mogul in the area. The rocky soil of the region means the grapevines can tend to struggle, but those stressful conditions make for richly flavored fruit favored by vintners.
All of the above areas offer wine tasting tours – many coordinated amongst multiple wineries – and gorgeous scenery to enjoy. Hiking, fishing, mountain biking and other outdoor activities are popular and there are numerous small towns, and their charms, to enjoy in the grape-growing regions of the state.
Thanks to recently passed state legislation, tasting rooms can also be found in Arizona’s largest metro areas of Phoenix and Tucson, but visits to the spectacular wine regions of the state are not to be missed!