Wines with a taste of Arizona Soil

A few months ago, my wife, Mara and I visited the up and coming wineries in Arizona’s central region located in Oak Creek Valley outside of Sedona. The majority of the wineries here had been established quite recently – they use varietals from California and are still waiting for their first harvest of grapes.

To experience wines that can be truly called Arizona Wines we decided to visit state’s oldest and largest growing region outside of elgin and Sonoita. It’s located about 1 ½ hour drive south-east of Tucson and is a very pleasant trip once you exit I-10 and head south. The main road is really picturesque it winds through Valleys and canyons.

During our three day trip, we realized that this area is not only a great place for wine lovers, but also for folks seeking reprieve from a stressful daily life and noises from big city , as well has heat it’s at least 10 degrees cooler that in Tucson. This area is so remote that we were unsuccessful in finding a place to buy a Snickers bar after 8 pm anywhere in Sonoita or Elgin. We live in the town of Ajo and until now we though that we are in the middle of nowhere, but this trip made us realize that we are quite fortunate in many aspects, and have many more conveniences.

There are nearly a dozen wineries located in the area some of then even less than a mile from each other. Although all of them import several varietals of grapes from California, only dos cabezas, rancho rossa, Callaghan and sonoita vineyards make several 100% Arizona wines. Each winery has tasting rooms and allows you to taste the true Arizona tierra.

The oldest and best known region’s winery is Callaghan Vineyards. Located at the elevation of 4800 feet, it produces rich, complex red and white wines from its 25 acre vineyard. Mediterranean and Spanish varietals Tempranillo, mourvedre, petit verdot, petite syrah and Grenache are the basic building blocks for their red blends, while viognier and Riesling are blended for its estate white wine.

From their offerings, we found a few wines that we really enjoyed and would recommend to our friends and customers. One of them is La Montaña 2005 red blend of petit syrah and merlot.

Tom Branson is the owner of Indulgence, a specialty beverage and smoke shop in Ajo, Az.


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