Arizona doesn’t have the reputation of major wine-growing states like California, but don’t discount this arid southwestern state entirely when it comes to fine grape-based libations. In fact, people have been making wine in these parts since the 1700’s, and today the state is home to nearly four dozen wineries. That’s why, with a weekend getaway or a relaxed day-trip in mind, it’s worth plotting a spot of Arizona travel that takes you to one of the state’s three wine regions before this becomes the next crowded Napa Valley.
There are three main wine-tasting destinations to put on your list. Conveniently close to Sedona, Arizona, are the vineyards of the Verde Valley. While you can enjoy a self-guided tasting tour of the four main wineries in the valley, it’s also possible to join an all-in, designated driver included, wine tasting tour from Sedona. And don’t think that just because the wineries are few in number that they’re in anyway limited for variety: though Page Springs Vineyards & Cellars specializes in grapes of the Rhone Valley, Jerome Winery makes a list of 30 wines, including Port, Pinot Grigio and even Champagne.
Southern Arizona’s big wine destination is centered around the towns of Sonoita and Elgin, an easy drive south of Tucson. A good way to hit the highlights is by following the Sonoita Wine Trail (you can print out a map from the Arizona Wine Growers website) which takes in ten vineyards, some of which are located conveniently close to one another on “Winery Row”. This area might not be as well-known as Napa but there are enough award winning wines made locally to earn these vineyards some respect.
And finally, west of Tucson find the state’s southeastern sweep of vineyards. There are three tasting rooms in the town of Willcox and three more not far from downtown, with more in the works. In other words, a totally manageable day-trip.
So whether your Arizona travel takes you north or south, there’s really no excuse for skipping the state without sampling some of the best wines up-and-coming vineyards have on offer; and then you can say you knew them when.