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The Five Best Wine Road Trips in the U.S.

The Five Best Wine Road Trips in the U.S.

Five fantastic wine regions to discover—no passport required.
By Food & Wine Editors 
May 03, 2021

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Virginia

Winding roads, wonderful wines.

I've been fortunate to travel to many wine regions, but somehow I have never fully explored the one right outside my door: Virginia. After being shut in for months and on the brink of going stir-crazy, though, I decided it was time to escape D.C. for greener pastures—ones that included wine. Virginia wine country is vast, with over 300 wineries and 4,000 acres of grapes, but I narrowed it down with this plan: I would visit only wineries with wines I had never tasted before. After achieving a deep, deep familiarity with the walls of my home, I was definitely in search of something new.

Casanel Vineyards & Winery, my first stop, was a little over an hour from home. Tucked down a winding road near Leesburg, in the heart of Virginia horse country, Casanel is run by the DeSouza family; here, Katie DeSouza Henley and Tyler Henley craft some of Virginia's best Petit Verdot. Though the DeSouzas also grow Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet Sauvignon, they focus on the grapes they feel best serve Virginia: Petit Verdot, Carmenère, and the native grape Norton.

Winemaker Katie DeSouza Henley feels Petit Verdot has the potential to be a signature Virginia wine: "The grapes are smaller, darker, and might not produce as much as Merlot, but it's concentrated. And it's considered an underdog, just like Virginia. People discredit it, but we don't. I feel we can take this blending grape and make an elegant varietal wine that is inherently Virginia."

From Casanel, the short drive to Otium Cellars was as scenic as they come: stone and brick homes, winding roads, horses grazing. Otium owner Max Bauer is a rare bird in Virginia because he concentrates on Austrian and German grape varieties—Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, Grüner Veltliner, and Grauburgunder (the German term for Pinot Gris). The winery's Blaufränkisch and Grüner Veltliner were particularly delicious, with softer peppery notes than their Austrian counterparts; I feel they should be on everyone's radar.

Charlottesville's The Wool Factory is a historic wool mill complex from 1868 recently converted to restaurants, shops, and an event space. Inside, Selvedge Brewing offers craft beers and more casual fare, while Broadcloth (opening soon) will be fine dining from executive chef Tucker Yoder and executive pastry chef Rachel De Jong. The unpretentious lunch I had felt like a home-cooked meal, but one made better by the lineup of wines, such as a crisp Blanc de Blancs Traditional Méthode Traditionnelle (made by acclaimed Virginia winemaker Claude Thibault). Paired with chicken liver mousse, it was a divine combination of fat and salt. And if the smoked mushroom tacos are on the menu, they are a must-try.

After lunch, it was time to head to Gabriele Rausse Winery. Rausse is considered the "father of Virginia wine" and did stints at Barboursville Vineyards and Jefferson Vineyards before branching out on his own in 1997. My wine rack thanks him because his 2017 Baer Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve is now on constant rotation in my glass. I also highly recommend hiring a driver to visit Ankida Ridge. The winery is quite a distance from downtown Charlottesville, about a 75-minute drive, but more than worth the trek. Co-owner and vineyard manager Christine Vrooman will welcome you as a member of the family, and the wines match her personality: vibrant, expressive, and focused.

Listen, I am not a member of the anything-but-Chardonnay club. I love Chardonnay, and Hark Vineyards makes one that truly represents Virginia. It doesn't have the warmth-driven richness of California nor the finesse of Burgundy, but it's round and fragrant, with a savory character that lingers. "This is Virginia wine and speaks to Virginia," winemaker Jake Busching told me. "So when you start drinking this Chardonnay, it's complex and interesting because for most people it's an entirely new terroir."

Even so, I admit that at Fleurie restaurant later that night in Charlottesville, I cheated on Virginia with a glass of Champagne Bauget-Jouette, at least until wine director Melissa Boardman suggested a side-by-side comparison of Virginia and a few of the many international wines on her list during dinner. Linden Vineyards' Late Harvest Petit Manseng and a Domaine Rousset Peyraguey Sauternes both paired beautifully with chef Jose de Brito's crème brûlée and proved yet again that Virginia wines can go head to head with wines from anywhere else in the world.

The Quirk Hotel Charlottesville (rooms from $200, destinationhotels.com), where I stayed during my trip, blends modern and vintage touches. A boutique art hotel and a great home base for a Virginia wine trip, it has paintings and sculptures from national and regional artists on display around the property, as well as a substantial gallery. After enjoying a Pink Breeze—vodka, cucumber, raspberry, lime, and Prosecco—in one of the rooftop bar's heated igloos, I headed to dinner at the Pink Grouse restaurant, just off the hotel lobby. After all, I didn't want to stay out too late—I still had to pack up all the wine I'd purchased before heading home.

—Julia Coney

Five Virginia Wines to Try

2018 Stinson Vineyards Wildkat ($28)
This aromatic Rkatsiteli, an unusual white variety originally from the Republic of Georgia, is thirst-quenching in the best way.

2017 Gabriele Rausse Baer Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve ($34)
Rausse's Cabernet Franc is elegant and ageworthy but also tastes so good that it deserves to be opened now.

2017 Hark Vineyards Chardonnay ($36)
Balanced and complex, this white has a whisper of oak—ideal for less-is-more Chardonnay fans.

2017 Casanel Vineyards & Winery Petit Verdot ($46)
This juicy, darkly fruity Petit Verdot reminds me of blackberry cobbler laced with rich tannins. It makes you wish more people made single-varietal Petit Verdot; luckily, Casanel does.

2018 Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir ($52)
Simply one of the best Pinot Noirs coming out of Virginia, this bottle is bursting with red fruit and texture.

Texas

A wine drive through Hill Country.

If Napa Valley is California's quintessential wine country, then the Hill Country plays that role for Texas. Getting here is as simple as a quick weekend flight to Austin, and with wildflower season in full swing, late spring is the perfect time to visit—cowboy boots and convertible rental car optional.

On a recent trip, I based myself at Camp Lucy, just outside of Dripping Springs. Don't let the name fool you: Camp Lucy is a luxe outdoor hideaway on nearly 300 acres of untouched wilderness. With exquisitely decorated cabins and a lengthy menu of amenities and activities (hatchet throwing, anyone?), the place is simply enchanting.

My first morning, I headed out U.S. Highway 290, the central corridor for Hill Country wineries, making my first stop at Ron Yates Wines, where I snagged a shady seat on the outdoor patio. Yates, with his long hair, full beard, and flip-flops, roamed from table to table, doling out splashes of a newly bottled 2019 Merlot. "I grew up in a place where everything was always comfortable and easygoing," Yates, who's originally from nearby Marble Falls, told me. "I wanted to bring that same feeling of casualness to our guests."

Just a few miles away, at Sandy Road Vineyards (run by Yates' associate winemaker, Reagan Sivadon), a treehouse platform overlooking the vineyard proved the perfect spot to sip a fruity pét-nat rosé made from the Spanish Prieto Picudo variety.

That evening, I returned to Camp Lucy for dinner at Tillie's restaurant, which was built from a reclaimed 19th-century Vietnamese town hall with towering ironwood rafters that had been transported to central Texas. A plate of orange-chile-sauced fried brussels sprouts followed by an entrée of red snapper in a creamy Meunière sauce proved a soulful meal, and I strolled back to my cabin beneath the hypnotic humming of cicadas.

Day two brought me to William Chris Vineyards, where, at a shady table overlooking the lush estate vineyards, I lingered over a floral blend of Blanc du Bois, Malvasia Bianca, and Moscato Giallo called Mary Ruth. At Ab Astris Winery, a newcomer located just over the glimmering Pedernales River, I encountered a minerally 2019 Clairette Blanche that made me hungry for fresh oysters. And at Texas stalwart Pedernales Cellars, I stretched out on a picnic blanket on the sprawling lawn and sipped on a tropical 2018 Albariño.

But my last appointment proved to be the most spectacular. Southold Farm and Cellar has one of the most stunning hilltop views in the entire Hill Country. The tasting room sits atop a lofty rise that offers a panoramic view of the region. Surprisingly, the winery got its start in Long Island in 2012 but transitioned to Texas' warmer climes in 2016, and winemaker Regan Meador has swiftly garnered a following for his lively, low-intervention wines. As I gazed out over rolling hills from the cozy porch swing of the farmhouse tasting room, I savored his nutty, skin-fermented Sing Sweet Things Albariño and thought to myself that when it came to Southold, New York's loss was definitely our gain.

—Jessica Dupuy

Five Texas Wines to Try

2018 Pedernales Cellars Texas Albariño ($20)
Fragrant, crisp apple and tropical fruit notes are the heart of this white.

2019 Ab Astris Aurora Rosé ($22)
A deep rosy hue leads to red-berry aromas and broad yet lifted flavors.

2017 Ron Yates friesen vineyards Tempranillo ($30)
This standout single-vineyard Tempranillo has rich dark fruit and tobacco notes.

2018 William Chris La Pradera Cinsault ($32)
An easy-drinking, playful red with cranberry and pomegranate flavors.

2018 Sandy Road Sangiovese ($34)
This earthy Sangiovese is elegantly structured, with rich notes of Bing cherry, mushroom, and savory herbs.

Michigan

Great lakes and greater grapes.

I may be biased as a native Michigander, but northern Michigan is one of the best-kept secrets in the country. Whenever I need an escape from it all, I head to the upper left corner of my mitten-shaped state to spend time amid the sweeping sand dunes, pristine lakes, and one of the most exciting up-and-coming wine regions in the country. Until recently, Michigan's wines had a reputation for being cloyingly sweet: Think ice wines and super-sugary Rieslings. Now, thanks to a group of ambitious winemakers, there has never been a better time to drink them.

There are two main wine trails in this part of the state: Old Mission Peninsula, which runs up the middle of Grand Traverse Bay, and the Leelanau Peninsula, which runs along the west side of the bay. In the middle, at the bottom, sits Traverse City, an ideal base for winery-visiting. On a recent trip, hotel options were middling at best, but Airbnb options abounded. I rented a renovated farmhouse on the outskirts of the city, a three-minute drive from Farm Club, a photogenic place that's a restaurant, brewery, bakery, and market—and a great spot to grab snacks like locally made cheese and crackers.

I set off the next morning armed with a hefty chilaquiles-stuffed burrito from Rose & Fern café and a foamy cappuccino from Mundos, a great local roaster, for Mission Point Lighthouse, the northernmost point of Old Mission Peninsula. I worked my way down, stopping off to try several wines from 2 Lads, where Oregon winemaker Thomas Houseman recently relocated. My favorite? A sparkling rosé that made a chilly day feel like summer. I kept driving, at times pulling over just to stare in awe at the breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, and finally arrived at Mari Vineyards. An impressive operation, it feels straight out of a Dan Brown novel thanks to the Knights Templar iconography on the building. This is where winemaker Sean O'Keefe spends his time, exploring hands-off winemaking techniques. Mari also happens to be just up the road from Chateau Grand Traverse, the first winery in the region, which O'Keefe's father founded in 1974 and his family still owns.

A day of wine drinking, I found, is best sopped up with plates of housemade pasta and clever salads, like one crafted from paper-thin slices of celery and mushroom, from Stella Trattoria, which is arguably the most famous restaurant in the area, and for good reason. I woke up the next morning hungover—not from wine but instead from the sheer amount of carbohydrates I had managed to consume.

But I hauled myself out of bed regardless. It was time to head up the Leelanau Peninsula, which has nearly 30 wineries. First, I headed down a shady lane, to Shady Lane cellars, one of the only operations in the area with a female winemaker. I found their canned wine selection incredibly charming and grabbed a few before heading to one of the best-known vineyards in the area, Mawby. There, brothers Michael and Peter Liang make two labels: Mawby, which is known for sparkling wines with raucous names like Sex, and BigLittle, their younger label, which makes a number of easy-to-drink still wines.

Vineyards dot the landscape all the way north until you hit the towns of Leeland and Suttons Bay, either of which could be the setting of a Hallmark movie. Between them sits 9 Bean Rows, a tiny bakery that makes the best almond croissant I've ever had. Proprietors Nic and Jen Welty also operate a pizza oven out back. I grabbed a fresh pie topped with artichoke hearts and a generous amount of mozzarella: the perfect road trip companion for the drive back down to Traverse City.

—Khushbu Shah

Four Michigan Wines to Try

2019 Biglittle Open Road Rosé ($17)
Crisp red fruit notes make this easygoing rosé hard to resist.

2017 2 Lads Sparkling rosé ($28)
Winemaker Thomas Houseman crafts this bright, lime-scented sparkler almost entirely from Chardonnay. (It's 1% Pinot Noir.)

2017 Shady Lane Cellars Blaufränkisch ($28)
Black-fruited with velvety tannins, this will win over anyone who's never had Blaufränkisch before (basically, everybody).

2017 Mari Vineyards Simplicissimus ($36)
This bubbly from Sean O'Keefe is not quite a pét-nat, but not quite a traditional sparkling wine, either. One thing it definitely is, though? Delicious.

New York

Long Island wines hit new heights.

Potatoes. On Long Island's North Fork, those Cabernet vines you see? That land once grew potatoes. Merlot? Potatoes. Cabernet Franc? Chardonnay? Sauvignon Blanc? Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. And while I'd be hard-pressed to make a choice between wine and french fries as something to strike from my life, I'm going to be bold and say that when it comes to a reason to visit a region, wine grapes win over spuds every time.

This assessment crossed my mind while I was sitting in one of the newly erected bungalows at Macari Vineyards, drinking a glass of the winery's tangy Lifeforce Cabernet Franc (so dubbed because it ferments in a concrete egg) and eating truffle mac and cheese from local go-to caterer Lauren Lombardi. The bungalows are snazzy canvas tents where you can relax with your group in a socially distanced way. Like the catered lunch, the decor inside is locally furnished, and if you fall in love with the wool throw tossed over your chair or the serving bowl filled with farro, arugula, and roasted butternut squash salad, it's probably for sale.

So, an admission: I hadn't spent a weekend in Long Island's wine country in way too long. For a New York City resident (and a wine writer!), that's unconscionable. But that gap did make me aware of how much has changed here: how the North Fork has drawn in some of Montauk's Brooklyn-by-the-sea cool; how its towns are burgeoning with excellent restaurants and boutique hotels; how many wineries have popped into existence (or changed hands); and, particularly, how good the wines are right now.

At Rose Hill Vineyards, formerly Shinn Estate Vineyards, I eavesdropped on a local couple who'd stopped in after nine holes of golf. They were chatting with Jon Sidewitz, a tasting room server. "I can't believe all the homes going up out there," the woman said. The winery's nonvintage red (current offering: a blend between 2017 and 2018) had the distinctive tobacco–sweet cherry scent of Cabernet Franc; it was something nice to sip while pondering how one result of plague panic has been a boom in house sales here.

Wineries have done oddly well, too. Every one I visited reported being swamped during the summer of 2020. "By October, we were exhausted," Jerol Bailey, director of sales at Lenz Winery, told me. "We're busy even now." Lenz is acclaimed for its old-vines Merlot, arguably the red grape that does best in Long Island's variable maritime climate, and the 2013 was rich with spice and kirsch notes. But the real surprise for me was a lovely, lychee-scented dry Gewürztraminer, lime-zesty and vibrant. Winemaker Thomas Spotteck said, approvingly, "It's got those punch-you-in-the-face aromatics." It certainly did, if getting punched in the face was a really great thing.

Despite the changes, the North Fork is still nothing like the Hamptons. It hasn't lost its agricultural roots, and in the summer, farmstands line the roads, selling sweet corn, ripe berries, leafy greens, and, yes, even potatoes. Local seafood is equally good, and at the Suhru Wines Tasting House in Cutchogue, over a glass of the only Teroldego I've ever seen outside of Northern Italy—inky purple, earthy, peppery, delicious—sales and marketing director Shelby Hearn told me, "At least once a month I find a new oyster farmer. It's like eggs. You stop by the side of the road and pick up a dozen."

Chef Stephan Bogardus uses all this abundance in his superb cooking at The Halyard, located at Sound View Greenport (rooms from $195, soundviewgreenport.com), a 1950s seaside motel recently spiffed up into early 21st-century cool. Bogardus adds depth to a local fluke tartare with miso and hijiki; his seared Long Island duck breast was exquisitely tender thanks to six days of dry aging. If you're offered the salty "biscuits with really good butter," say yes—the butter is indeed really good, and the biscuits are even better. Smuggle them out for breakfast the next morning. I did.

Then there's the North Fork Table & Inn, a much-loved local icon recently taken over by exceptionally talented NYC chef John Fraser. Dishes like his mysteriously light tempura squash, decorated with flower petals from the biodynamic farm just down the road, are not to be missed. Nor is beverage director Amy Racine's impressive list, which splits 50-50 between local bottles and international choices. Initially, she planned to skew more toward Europe, she told me, but "the guests were much more interested in local wines than I expected. And I was really blown away by a lot of them, too. Like some of the old Macari Bergen Road reds I tasted and then put on—those wines have aged beautifully."

Fraser is emblematic in a way of how much is going on out here: He's also opening a 20-room hotel this summer just down the road, right on Peconic Bay, and a market-café just down the same road but in the other direction. Yet for all the new ventures, nearby Southold Fish Market still brings in porgies, stripers, day-boat scallops, and more off the fishing boats every morning. And in Greenport, while I loved staying at the boutiquey Menhaden hotel (rooms from $559, themenhaden.com), with its roof deck looking past flitting gulls to the sea; I also loved the fact that it was right next to the town's straight-out-of-the-1950s George D. Costello Senior Memorial Skating Rink. As Fraser had said to me: "We're not dealing with the perfectly polished Hamptons thing here. And that's great."

—Ray Isle

Four Long Island Wines to Try

2016 Lenz Winery Gewürztraminer ($20)
With its telltale scent of lychee fruit, this white is one of many fine bottles in the Lenz portfolio. Don't miss the winery's graphite-scented Estate Selection Merlot, either.

2019 Macari Horses Sparkling Cabernet Franc ($26)
This lightly fizzy sparkler has lovely red fruit flavors, and the name is a nod to the bluffs at the edge of Macari's property, which suggest the shape of a horse's head—and were used by 1920s bootleggers as a covert route to the sea.

NV Shinn Estate Vineyards Red Blend ($25)
A classic Bordeaux-style blend, this red is plump with ripe cherry fruit and lifted by a dried tobacco note; for this release, longtime winemaker Patrick Caserta blended wines from the 2017 and 2018 vintages.

2019 Suhru wines Teroldego ($30)
Teroldego is an unusual enough grape in Italy, where it grows almost exclusively in the northern Trentino region. So, Long Island Teroldego? If this earthy, spicy red is any indication, the grape has found an excellent second home.

Arizona

Red rocks meet red wine.

Last summer, desperate to go somewhere (anywhere!), I rented an RV. 
A visit to the Grand Canyon was on my bucket list, so I made it the starting point for a weekend in Arizona's wine country, which promised to marry an encore of dramatic landscapes with distinct and travel-worthy wines.

I started my jaunt in Verde Valley, one of the state's three wine regions. A morning's drive from the canyon landed me at Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room & Osteria, opened by Maynard James Keenan, the frontman of the rock band Tool turned winemaker of Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars. While digging into pillowy gnocchi blanketed in a sage-scented cream sauce, I sampled a brambly red called Tarzan and a dry rosé called Jane. Stuffy, Arizona is not, I decided—an impression reinforced on the welcoming open-air patio of nearby Chateau Tumbleweed, which makes focused, refreshing wines like a mouthwatering Vermentino that smelled deliciously of lemon peel, and Willy, a garnet-colored Grenache blend with fine tannins. From there, I headed to D.A. Ranch, an estate winery where the inky wines and verdant property felt like a mirage after a day of desert landscapes—though I admit it did make me briefly regret the RV.

For day two, I headed south to the Sonoita region. The towering rock formations of central Arizona had given 
way to undulating grasslands before I pulled up to 
Callaghan Vineyards, where winemaker Kent Callaghan has been relentlessly experimenting, changing what he grows every year, for three decades now. "The soil here lends itself to ageworthy wines," he said—a claim that his 2014 Lisa's, with its apricot aromas, backs up. Callaghan's innovative approach is reflected in the work of those he's mentored in the region, including Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas. At their tasting room, a wood-fired pizza truck turns out pizzas to pair with their boundary-pushing wines, which included an unlikely but delicious white blend, Meskeoli, made from Albariño, Viognier, Malvasia, Roussanne, Petit Manseng, and Kerner, and a "perpetual cuvée" containing vintages from 2015 through 2019. "These would not have found love anywhere but Arizona, 'cause other places got rules," Todd said with a laugh.

The exploratory mindset of the state's winemakers makes Arizona a thrilling place to visit and taste right now. Pavle Milic, beverage director and co-owner of Scottsdale's FnB restaurant, embodies that exuberance at Los Milics, his new winery in Elgin. I stood with Milic among his vines, ringed by mountains, as he described his vision: the tasting room that will immerse guests in the vineyards, the guesthouses that will drink in the star-filled sky. "It will be a little suspension of reality," he said. Then we went inside, and I tasted his vibrant wines straight from the barrels—dry, flinty Grenache and lush Tempranillo—and promised myself I'd be back as soon as they opened this summer. But this time hopefully by plane.

—Karen Shimizu

Five Arizona Wines to Try

2018 Chateau Tumbleweed Mourvèdre ($36) 
Mourvèdre excels in Arizona, something shown by the fresh acidity, red fruit flavors, and lightly spicy edge of this wine.

2019 Merkin Vineyards Jane Pink ($20)
Maynard James Keenan's light-bodied rosé delivers beautiful strawberry aromas and crisp, green-apple acidity.

2014 Callaghan Vineyards Lisa's ($28)
This easy-drinking white blend's aromas of apricot and orange make it a favorite for sipping in Arizona's warm weather.

2019 Dos Cabezas Meskeoli ($28)
For a unique taste of place, you can't go wrong with this singular white blend from Todd and Kelly Bostock.

2019 Los Milics Betty's Grenache ($36)
A high-toned red from sommelier Pavle Milic, whose Elgin tasting room will open this year.

Do You Know Idaho?

Fond of visiting Oregon and Washington wineries? Well, why not keep going?

Idaho's emerging winery scene is smaller than those of its neighbor states to the west, but ambition and ideal weather have made it well worth checking out. The state's 60 or so wineries make impressive Cabernets, Syrahs, Rieslings, and other varieties—plus its two main wine regions, the Snake River Valley and the Lewis-Clark Valley, both happen to be beautiful. In the Snake River Valley, east of the Oregon border, head to Williamson Orchards & Vineyards (willorch.com) to try the lime-zesty 2019 Williamson Vineyard Albariño ($23), among others. Across the valley at Telaya Wine Co. (telayawine.com), don't miss the 2018 Turas Red ($46), a powerful, peppery blend of Syrah, Petit Verdot, and other varieties. Finally, if you find yourself farther north, in the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA along the Washington border, drop in at Rivaura Wines (rivaura.com) to try its inky-purple, blackberry-rich, gravelly Syrah ($38). Those are just a few top possibilities; there are many more.

—Ray Isle

Fond of visiting Oregon and Washington wineries? Well, why not keep going?

Idaho's emerging winery scene is smaller than those of its neighbor states to the west, but ambition and ideal weather have made it well worth checking out. The state's 60 or so wineries make impressive Cabernets, Syrahs, Rieslings, and other varieties—plus its two main wine regions, the Snake River Valley and the Lewis-Clark Valley, both happen to be beautiful. In the Snake River Valley, east of the Oregon border, head to Williamson Orchards & Vineyards (willorch.com) to try the lime-zesty 2019 Williamson Vineyard Albariño ($23), among others. Across the valley at Telaya Wine Co. (telayawine.com), don't miss the 2018 Turas Red ($46), a powerful, peppery blend of Syrah, Petit Verdot, and other varieties. Finally, if you find yourself farther north, in the Lewis-Clark Valley AVA along the Washington border, drop in at Rivaura Wines (rivaura.com) to try its inky-purple, blackberry-rich, gravelly Syrah ($38). Those are just a few top possibilities; there are many more.

—Ray Isle

Time Posted: May 3, 2021 at 12:00 PM Permalink to The Five Best Wine Road Trips in the U.S. Permalink
Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed
 
November 23, 2020 | Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed

Whether for a gift or drinking at home, this Arizona red wine is great for the holidays

Whether for a gift or drinking at home, this Arizona red wine is great for the holidays
Congrats! You found The Good Stuff, a column where we share our hottest finds, best recommendations and secret tips.

Priscilla Totiyapungprasert
Arizona Republic

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My memory of a 2019 wine festival feels like eons ago.

It was January in downtown Phoenix and people wore sundresses. It was a time when a former coworker and I could make our way through the throng of people, brushing shoulders with mask-less strangers, and our only concern was what wine to sample next, not whether we were spreading an infectious disease.

It was also the day I declared Earth Cuckoo my favorite Arizona wine.

Chateau Tumbleweed, a winery in Clarkdale, produces approximately 100 crates a year of Earth Cuckoo, a red wine made with a blend of tempranillo, grenache and graciano.

I can't tell you why it was my favorite other than I liked the way it tasted the best. (When it comes to judging wine, I'll leave that to experts such as Richard Ruelas.)

What I can tell you is this: Earth Cuckoo reminds me of my first year exploring Arizona, good food with good company, and the people who helped me settle into a new city and new job.

So this year when I celebrate my small, pandemic-era Christmas in Phoenix, I know which bottle of wine I'm reaching for.

A distinctly Arizona kind of Rioja

Kris Pothier, one of the owners of Chateau Tumbleweed, describes Earth Cuckoo as an "Arizona homage with some poetic license" to the Rioja wines of Spain.

Vintners in Spain tend to plant their grapevines further in the ground, giving the grapes more earthy characteristics, Pothier said. In Spain they tend to push the grapes to a ripe state and age their Riojas in American oak, giving it a big and beefy profile, she explained.

In comparison, Earth Cuckoo is lighter because the grapes are picked earlier when they're still bright and lively, Pothier said. The wine is aged in Hungarian and Eastern European oak, which pairs better with the lighter fruit, she added.

The result is versatile red wine with a spicy plum and watermelon character. It would go well with anything that has fat, salt or brine — the usual suspects in a hearty holiday feast. It probably won't pair well with a bright citrus salad, but some aged cheese, green olives and fig crostini would do nicely.

Where to find this Chateau Tumbleweed wine

Let's start with the bad news: Since Earth Cuckoo is a small-batch wine, Chateau Tumbleweed does not sell it in retail stores.

But there's good news: Chateau Tumbleweed has an online shop and the winery delivers to metro Phoenix. The 2018 vintage of Earth Cuckoo has a 14.3% ABV and sells for $35. People can also purchase bottles directly from the tasting room in Clarkdale.

The Earth Cuckoo bottle features Potheir's illustration of a roadrunner, a terrestrial bird in the cuckoo family, hence the name of the wine. Pothier has updated Earth Cuckoo's label the past few years to change what's in the roadrunner's mouth. On the 2018 vintage the roadrunner grips a scorpion.

The name was inspired by a roadrunner that lived on the Clarkdale property the first year Chateau Tumbleweed moved in, which the owners saw as a good omen.

After a year like this, we could all use a good omen.

Details: Chateau Tumbleweed, 1151 AZ-89A, Clarkdale. 928-634-0443, chateautumbleweed.com.

 

Time Posted: Nov 23, 2020 at 12:00 PM Permalink to Whether for a gift or drinking at home, this Arizona red wine is great for the holidays Permalink
Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed
 

Put down that White Claw. Here are the 14 best Arizona wines for summer drinking

Georgann Yara, Special for Arizona Republic

ARTICLE LINK
 

Sometimes, sipping on a crisp and cool glass of wine is just what is needed to find relief from the Arizona heat. Although the calendar indicates fall is just around the corner, we know it’ll still feel very much like summer for another month or two.

Vino lovers who wish to support local businesses and farmers can satisfy both cravings with a bottle or two of Arizona-grown and produced wine. And while it’s the season of whites and rosés, local winemakers are also churning out reds that are very summer and summer food friendly.

From porch pounders to palate-smacking sippers, here are the homegrown wines that should be filling your glass when temperatures soar. Prices vary at retail locations.

Bubbles

Merkin Vineyards, Puscifer Queen B Sparkling Rosé ($12)

This can of bubbly was made for summer picnics, hikes and San Diego beach escapes. Made from 100% mourvedre rather than the mainstream pinot noir or chardonnay, this sparkling pink carries a bit more heft, zero sweetness and the ability to play nice with most summertime eats. Fans of red may want to know there’s a canned sparkling garnacha ($12) as well.

Details: merkinoldtownscottsdale.com.

Pinks

Callaghan Vineyards, 2019 Arizona Dry Rosé ($20)

Made with 100% grenache, this refresher does well on its own or partnered with a charcuterie board or fish. Winemaker Kent Callaghan likes this uber-drinkable wine with anything off the grill – think perfectly charred octopus. Delivery by refrigerated truck is free with a 6-bottle minimum purchase.

Details: callaghanvineyards.com.

Carlson Creek Vineyard, 2018 Grenache Rosé ($23)

Fun and playful, this brilliantly hued pink is prepared to party. It boasts notes of watermelon granita, rhubarb, cherry and raspberry cheesecake with a banana skin finish. And it’s medium-bodied, which means it holds its own with flavorful proteins like turkey and grilled salmon, but would also be tasty foil for barbecue chicken. Delivery services resume in October.

Details: carlsoncreek.com.

Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, 2018 Dayden ($14)

A long time favorite among Arizona wine fans, this rosé continues to reliably impress with each vintage. It’s versatile enough to appeal to white and pink-only sippers as well as red wine devotees. This vintage combines syrah, grenache and mourvedre to yield cherry, lime zest and tangerine with hints of wet stone – but in a good way – on the palate. Enjoy with any light summer dish or cheese platter. Delivery is offered within 150 miles of the Verde Valley, so much of the Phoenix metro area falls within these parameters. Fee is $20 for 1-6 bottles and $30 for 7-12 bottles.

Details: azstronghold.com

Whites

Dos Cabezas WineWorks, 2019 Meskeoli ($28)

Bottled this summer, this blend brings together albarino, viognier, malvasia, roussanne, petite manseng and pinch of the little-known kerner – an aromatic white grape with origins in Germany that’s the result of crossing riesling and trollinger, interestingly an Italian red variety. It’ll bring out the best in starters like prosciutto and melon salad and picnic mains like spicy fried chicken. Delivery to the Phoenix area is available. Contact the winery for details.

Details: doscabezas.com.

Garage-East, 2019 The Green Wine ($12)

Packaged ready to go wherever you do, this wine comes in a totable 375 ml can, which is about two glasses worth. Reminiscent of vinho verde – the Portugal varietal known for its brightness and slightly effervescent personality – it’s a blend of malvasia bianca, sauvignon blanc and riesling. Despite its name there is no hint of emerald beyond the can. Delivery to homes in the immediate neighborhood around Garage-East have no minimum purchase requirements. Deliveries to destinations within a 10-mile radius of Garage-East come with a $50 minimum purchase. Deliveries to the rest of the Valley come with a $200 minimum purchase

Details: garage-east.com

Pillsbury Wine Company, 2018 WildChild White ($25)

Filmmaker-turned-winemaker Sam Pillsbury’s WildChild wines have been perennial pleasers for years, and this white blend reflects his affinity for crisp, dry aromatic wines. A combination of symphony, malvasia, pinot gris, riesling and viognier makes this an ideal companion for any cool summer salad, most Asian dishes and delicately seasoned fish or pork. Looking for something new along these lines? Pillsbury just bottled and released his 2019 Barbecue White ($18), the first vintage of a house blend that's made for hot dogs, turkey burgers, wings or simple poolside sipping. Delivery with a 6-bottle minimum order is free.

Details: pillsburywine.com.

Chateau Tumbleweed, 2019 The Descendants ($24)

A 100% rhone blend, this white hits all notes thanks to a trio of roussanne, viognier and grenache blanc. Think bright fruit and acidity meets hints of melon and a kiss of minerality with an air of white blossom, quince and pear that appropriately represent the transition of summer into fall. Aged partly in stainless steel and partly in neutral oak, it manages to walk the ideal line between complex and refreshing. Try it alongside crudité or grilled vegetables, light seafood and poultry bites, antipasti or just solo with a good book. Delivery to the Phoenix area for a $5 fee.

Details: chateautumbleweed.com.

Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, 2018 Picpoul Blanc ($27)

The name loosely translates as “lip stinger,” referring to the grape’s naturally high acidity level. But it’s this characteristic that makes this wine a natural partner for strong shellfish flavors of oysters, clams and shrimp, and grilled fatty fish like salmon or swordfish. This rendition balances that acidity with tropical fruit and finishes with the richness of vanilla custard. Delivery to the Phoenix area for a fee.

Details: sand-reckoner.com.

Reds

Page Springs Cellars, 2018 Mule’s Mistake ($17)

This red blend has grown from being the baby of an "oops" moment in production to achieving cult status. The composition shifts slightly each year, with this vintage being half grenache and the rest carignan, counoise, pinot noir, sangiovese, malvasia bianca and French colombard. But the result is reliably pinot noir-esque that is fruit-driven, light-bodied and goes down easy… maybe too easy. Try it slightly chilled with pretty much anything fit for a classic picnic. Delivery is made to three drop off points in the Valley. A $10 fee applies for orders less than $100.

Details: pagespringscellars.com.

Callaghan Vineyards, 2017 Bonita ($28)

Comprised of grenache, malbec and touriga nacional – a grape that hails from Portugal and is considered to be that nation’s finest – this blend may be a one-off due to the small amount of malbec and touriga nacional, which usually don’t perform well, but in 2017, according to winemaker Callaghan, everything clicked. But it’s bottled for good times now, so pop it open with your favorite grilled dishes like chicken, sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers and steak. Aromatic and complex, Callaghan’s wife Lisa said it’s her favorite lighter red “and it has a little spice to it.”

Details: callaghanvineyards.com.

Lightning Ridge Cellars, 2018 Montepulciano ($29)

Winemaker Ann Roncone specializes in Italian varietals, and this red is among her estate wines. A U.S.-grown version of this grape is rare and this vintage manages to be fresh while maintaining a depth of character. This medium-bodied wine is light enough to compliment a grilled Portobello mushroom yet stand up to a steak or roasted lamb.

Details: lightningridgecellars.com.

Dos Cabezas WineWorks, 2019 Carbonic Macerated Syrah ($30)

Want to impress your wine-loving pals? Bring around a bottle of this to your next intimate patio gathering or Zoom happy hour. Instead of traditional yeast fermentation, winemaker Todd Bostock incorporates the French technique where whole grapes are placed in a airtight vessel with carbon dioxide, allowing the fruit to ferment from the inside in this oxygen-free environment. The result: a bouncy, super bright, earthy wine that begs to be drunk ASAP. Bostock’s wife Kelly called this refreshing lower-alcohol sipper Beaujoulais-esque. “I love it. It’s not weighty.”

Details: doscabezas.com.

Something fun

Garage-East Rosé Pops ($4 or 6 for $20)

This grab-and-go summer favorite is kind of like an adult wine Otter Pop. Winemaker Todd Bostock worked with Tempe-based pastry chef Tracy Dempsey to come up with a recipe that allowed them to freeze yet kept its shape, texture and flavor.

Details: garage-east.com.

Where to buy Arizona wines in metro Phoenix

If you’re looking for a good selection of Arizona wines and want to avoid the big box booze stores and grocers, head to these independent wine shops. Whether you’re very familiar with local wines or a newbie taking your first steps into the homegrown scene, chances are great that you’ll have your questions answered by someone who can help you navigate the terroir.

Arcadia Premium: 5618 E. Thomas Road, Suite 100, Phoenix. 602-464-9000, arcadiapremium.com.

Bottle Shop 48: 3316 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. 480-820-0804, bottleshop48.com.

GenuWine Arizona: 888 N. First Ave., Phoenix. 602-682-7494, genuwinearizona.com.

Hidden Track Bottle Shop: The Monroe, 111 W. Monroe St., Suite 120, Phoenix. 602-566-7932, hiddentrackbottleshop.com.

ODV Wines: 1325 W. University Drive, Tempe. 602-376-9021, odvwines.com.

Sphinx Date Co.: 3039 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-941-2261, sphinxdateranch.com.

Time Posted: Aug 11, 2020 at 12:53 PM Permalink to Put down that White Claw. Here are the 14 best Arizona wines for summer drinking Permalink
Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed
 

Have You Tried Wine from Texas, Arizona, and Virginia? All About Three Up-and-Coming U.S. Wine Regions (marthastewart.com)

By Sarah Tracey

ARTICLE LINK

You already know about California wines made in Napa and Sonoma, and you might even be familiar with wine from Long Island and the Finger Lakes region in New York. And maybe you've ordered a glass of pinot noir from the Wilamette Valley in Oregon over dinner, but did you know that wine is actually made in all 50 states? Let's take a closer look at three fantastic U.S. wine regions that are still under the radar (for now!).

Virginia

Virginia is the oldest wine region in the U.S. Its most famous champion was that well-known wine connoisseur Thomas Jefferson. In 1773 he hired a famous Italian viticulturist to help elevate vine plantings, but due to rough climate conditions and a destructive aphid called Phylloxera that destroyed the vineyards, the endeavor did not succeed. It wasn't until the mid-1970s that the modern Virginia wine industry began.

It took plenty of trial and error to discover the optimal sites for prime grape-growing—and in Virginia, it's the mountains that have emerged as the critical factor in making fine wines. Aileen Sevier, director of marketing at Early Mountain Vineyards, explains: "The Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley are critical for high-quality grape growing. Altitude, rocky soils, good airflow, and good aspect are all key to mitigating the challenges of grape growing here. As a tourism-driven industry in past decades, too many vineyards were planted based on location for hosting wine tourists as opposed to soil analysis, but that has changed."

As for which grape varieties to look for? That's evolving, too. Historically, Virginia was known for hybrids: Classic European fine wine grapes known as Vitis vinifera were cross-bred with indigenous American grapes to make them more resistant to Phylloxera and better withstand the Virginia climate challenges. Although hybrids are more disease resistant, they don't necessarily have the structure or complexity of their European cousins. But recently, top wineries have been investing in the planting and nurturing of vinifera grapes. According to Sevier, "Petit Manseng, petit verdot, cabernet franc, and tannat are emerging as increasingly important," while stalwarts like chardonnay and merlot have also had successful plantings. 

You may not find Virginia wine at your local wine store but many wineries ship directly. Standout bottles from Virginia to order include Early Mountain Rosé 2019 ($25, earlymountain.com), Barboursville Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve 2018 ($25, bbvwine.com), Veritas Viognier 2018 ($25, veritaswines.com), and King Family Vineyards Merlot 2018 ($28, kingfamilyvineyards.com).

And to truly experience the magic of Virginia wine country, local lifestyle and wine blogger Carlita Pitts suggests planning a visit. "With more than 300 wineries, there is something for everyone. The state's monumental historic sites, spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, award-winning wines, and the many unique wine experiences that go beyond a typical tasting make it the perfect place to relax and unwind." Wineries with exceptional hospitality experiences she recommends include Bluestone Vineyard, Blue Valley Vineyard, Pippin Hill, Chateau Morrissette, and Stone Tower.

Arizona

We can date Arizona's link to wine back to when Spanish missionaries traveling through the area planted small vineyards to produce wine for mass in the 1700s. But the wine industry as we know it today officially began in 1979 with Vina Sonoita, the state's first modern commercial wine vineyard. Today, there are over 100 wineries in three main regions: Northern Arizona's Verde Valley, Southern Arizona's Sonoita/Elgin, and Southeastern Arizona's Willcox.

The vivid, diverse, and lush topography may surprise those picturing endless vistas of arid desert. Most of the top vineyard sites are planted at 4,000 to 5,500 feet elevation, which brings warm summer days and cool evenings. In fact, it's not uncommon to experience a 50-degree diurnal shift in temperature throughout the day—giving lots of bright acidity and freshness to the wines. 

Arizona is still a local wine-lovers' secret, and that has fostered a very adventurous, open, and creative winemaking community. It's common to hear stories of young couples such as Rob and Sarah Hammelman of Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, who made wine in France's Rhone Valley and were then looking to put down roots back in the U.S. Arizona was an accessible place to buy land at affordable prices and grow a family and business in ways that established regions, like Napa Valley, are impossible to get into without significant capital. And for intrepid producers who find something special in the high desert vineyards, they aren't limited by "classic" grape varieties or styles for the region because what's classic is still a work in progress for such a young wine region. 

To try the exciting wines of Arizona, we highly recommend Sand-Reckoner Grenache Rose 2018 ($24, sand-reckoner.com) and Malvasia Bianca 2017 ($35, sand-reckoner.com). Dos Cabezas Wine Works has juicy, barbecue-friendly reds that overdeliver for the price: Try their El Norte 2015 ($30, doscabezas.com) and El Campo 2013 ($30, doscabezas.com). And Callaghan Vineyards, helmed by Arizona wine pioneer Kent Callaghan and his wife Lisa, has such a diverse array of beautiful wines you just might want to join their wine club—but if we had to pick, red wine lovers should try Caitlin's 2016($45, callaghanvineyards.com). White wine enthusiasts shouldn't miss Greg's Petit Manseng 2017 ($35, callaghanvineyards.com).

If you're planning a visit to Arizona wine country, Jessica Dupuy, author of the forthcoming book Wines of the American Southwest for the Classic Wine Library, has some ideas for you. "If you like stark desert landscapes, I think the Verde Valley of Arizona is stunning. Jerome and Cottonwood both offer quaint small-town hotels, shops, and restaurants, and Sedona isn't a far drive if you prefer a little more luxury. You could easily spend a few days at tasting rooms such as Chateau Tumbleweed, Caduceus Cellars, the Southwest Wine Center, Four Eight WineWorks, or Page Springs Cellars."

Texas

Defining Texas wine is difficult, if for no other reason than the sheer size of the state—Texas is larger than the entire country of France!—so you can imagine the diversity of wines, regions, climates, soils, and grape varieties. Texas has eight major wine regions and is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the U.S. in terms of volume. 

The three main winegrowing regions are the North-Central Region, home to the Texas High Plains AVA (which spans over nine million acres), the South-Eastern Region, which includes Austin and San Antonio, and the Trans-Pecos Region, which produces about 40 percent of Texas' grapes. There are more than 400 wineries in the state but the vast majority of Texas wine is consumed by Texans. Because of the hot, dry climate, parts of Texas are often compared climatically to Portugal, Spain, France's Rhone Valley, and southern Italy, so it's not uncommon to see grape varieties native to those locations do very well in the Lone Star State.

If you're a fan of Italian grape varieties, you should try Duchman Family Winery Aglianico 2016 ($40, duchmanwinery.com) and Vermentino 2018 ($26, duchmanwinery.com), or Southold Farm + Cellar Forgotten Dreams Sangiovese Cerasuolo 2019 ($35, southoldfarmandcellar.com). Spanish wine lovers will find a lot to love in Pedernales Cellars Albarino 2017 ($20, pedernalescellars.com) and their Texas Hill Country Tempranillo 2016 ($40, pedernalescellars.com). And if you enjoy French varieties, we recommend Spicewood Vineyards Grenache Rose 2019 ($25, spicewoodvineyards.com),Lost Draw Cellars Roussanne 2018 ($25, lostdrawcellars.com), William Chris Vineyards Artist Blend 2017 ($45, williamchriswines.com), McPherson Cellars "Les Copains Rosé 2017 ($18, mcphersoncellars.com).

For a real Texas wine experience, head for a long weekend to Fredericksburg in Hill Country. Located just over an hour away from both San Antonio and Austin, it's home to over fifty wineries and tasting rooms (plus plenty of charming Bed and Breakfasts, antique shops, distilleries, and breweries). If you're craving a wine-tasting break, make sure to visit Enchanted Rock, which offers camping, hiking, stargazing, and bird watching. And for an indulgent dining experience, Cabernet Grill offers not only incredible cuisine but also an all-Texas wine list, which is perfect for a Texas wine weekend finale. 

Time Posted: Jun 18, 2020 at 12:00 PM Permalink to Have You Tried Wine from Texas, Arizona, and Virginia? All About Three Up-and-Coming U.S. Wine Regions (marthastewart.com) Permalink Comments for Have You Tried Wine from Texas, Arizona, and Virginia? All About Three Up-and-Coming U.S. Wine Regions (marthastewart.com) Comments (63)
Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed
 

Arizona Wine? A Conversation with Chateau Tumbleweed (Wine Traveler)

by Adrian Prieto

ARTICLE LINK
 

Arizona is a hot and dry desert. Often, that brown stretch of dirt you fly over on your way to a more coastal destination. Arizona certainly has a perception — a dry pile of sand and earth with the occasional desert mountains thrown in. If that doesn’t sound ideal for growing wine grapes, that’s because it’s not.

In most American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), there are different pockets of terrain. There are climates, microclimates, mesoclimates, and specific sites—or terroirs—that lend themselves to the development of beautiful wines. Where does Arizona come in? There are a few places in Arizona that do have ideal geology, enough rain, and optimal sunlight; there are three locations in which all of the wines from Arizona are sourced. Two, Willcox and Sonoita, are official AVAs, and one is very close to being the third, the Verde Valley.

Here, higher elevations, unique geologies, and more mild climates lend themselves to grapes such as Vermentino, Viognier, Sangiovese, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more. Overall, there are over 100 producers, over 1,000 acres planted (devoted to wine grape production), and producers with a wild west attitude, if you will, devoted to figuring out what grape varieties are well-suited to their terroir, in order to make stunning wines.

Chateau Tumbleweed opened five years ago, with a physical tasting room and production facility in Clarkdale, Arizona, although their first vintage was 2011, making their wines out of a cooperative space nearby. It’s an hour and 45 minutes north of Phoenix, and a half-hour west of Sedona. After making wine at the cooperative, the four friends and owners, Joe Bechard, Kris Pothier, Kim Koistinen, and Jeff Hendricks, started what is now Chateau Tumbleweed.

Let’s get to know Arizona wine and Chateau Tumbleweed better.

Winetraveler: Why Arizona for wine? People assume it’s a hot and dry desert that is too arid and sunny for growing wine grapes. Can you talk to us about the vineyards that you work with? It seems that many of the vineyards you work with are at a higher elevation. Why is that and what impact does that have on the wine?

Chateau Tumbleweed (CT): The majority of Arizona’s vineyards are at high elevations that range from 3,500 to over 5,000 feet. This is a true wine frontier and that appeals to many Arizona winegrowers and winemakers. Arizona wines tend to have more of an Old-World feeling to them than people might expect. The constant battle for nutrients at high-elevation vineyards means that the vine works hard to divert energy from grape production to simple survival, which reduces the overall yield of the vine. These low-yielding vines give the surviving fruit more character of a higher quality. While blazing hot temperatures characterize dry and dusty days, night temperatures drop drastically, often reaching the low 50s throughout the summer. These intense diurnal shifts force grapes to ripen slowly because a drop in temperature halts sugar production. The wines created from this high-elevation fruit aren’t too jammy or concentrated, they tend to be fresh and more focused, with a nice balance of fruit, spice, and savory characters that ties in nicely with the wines’ slightly grittier, grippier tannins.

Winetraveler: What’s the philosophy here at Chateau Tumbleweed? What’s most important to Chateau Tumbleweed? The wine? The people? The processes? The vineyards?

CT: Our main goal is to highlight the fun and freeing aspect of wine and focus on putting that energy into every aspect of Chateau Tumbleweed. We are serious about the winemaking but never take ourselves too seriously and we work hard to create a vibe that is inclusive and open. This is an intense industry and it is very important to realize the need for flexibility, endurance, guts and humor; wine is supposed to be fun, not a status symbol. We have been lucky to draw in people who understand these principles to our business.

Winetraveler: Do your wines have a style?

CT: Our wines have a house style. We generally aim for fresh and bright wines. We don’t pick too ripe and try to keep the wine from being too monochromatic. We believe that each vineyard and region has its own sense of place and we try our absolute best to honor and preserve it.

Whites are pressed whole cluster and fermented in stainless steel. We try to age primarily in stainless steel, but some whites will see a short time in neutral oak. We never use new oak on whites and we never perform batonnage (lees stirring). We inhibit malolactic to preserve acidity and are aiming for fresh, crisp, refreshing whites that drink well in the Arizona heat. Arizona whites generally have much more intense aromatics due to the sun and heat. It’s our challenge to make sure we get good aromatic development without going too ripe and losing too much crispness, subtlety, and nuance.

In the reds, we look for a balanced complexity of characters, not concentration of a particular note. We usually pick reds around 24 to 25 Brix, which gives us a good core of bright fruit, but still allows the spicy and savory side to show (and alcohols generally stay in the 13.5 to 14.3 percent range). Most of our reds are fermented with about 10 to 25 percent whole clusters. This adds more spice and a savory, herbal note while also giving the fruit a little “lift.” We don’t age too long. We want our wines to taste good while young, but they still need a few years to truly open. Most reds are aged about 11 months, while about 15 to 20 percent of our production is held for 18 months in oak (generally bigger for more tannic varieties like tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon & cabernet franc that need a little more time to soften). We try not to hammer our wines with oak, aiming for about 20 to 25 percent new oak or something comparable. We think that level of oak adds another layer to the wine without dominating the wine. Chateau Tumbleweed uses primarily French oak from the best of the best cooperages we can find. Some “bigger” varieties like tempranillo, malbec & cabernet sauvignon will get Eastern European oak (Hungarian, Romanian, Carpathian).

Winetraveler: Which varieties do well in the vineyards? Which grapes do you most enjoy working with? If you had to choose your favorite red varieties that are grown in Arizona, what would they be and why?

CT: Rhône varieties have been very popular in Arizona for the past 10 to 15 years. They match well with the Arizona character, but some varieties (especially syrah and grenache) can struggle in the acidity department. There seems to be a growing interest in higher-acid varieties. Graciano and aglianico have both been pleasant surprises in that regard. Sangiovese is another varietal we’re really enjoying. Merlot and cabernet franc sound like weird choices, but they both have high acid, bright red fruit, grippy tannins and restraint that can be pretty compelling. We have a lot of trial and error still to do here, especially in regard to whites. There seems to have been less experimenting and fewer plantings of whites in general. We’ll always love Arizona viognier, but along with roussanne it can struggle. The wines can get soft and almost waxy if the grapes are left to hang too long. Chardonnay is more exciting in Arizona than we might care to admit. In good years, it can be more restrained than one might expect. There is also a fair amount of riesling and sauvignon blanc. Picpoul blanc has been gaining in popularity recently. Same with vermentino.

Winetraveler: I’m coming to Arizona, specifically to try Arizona wine for the first time. What do I need to know? Where do I need to go? And what do I need to drink when I’m there?

CT: Arizona isn’t just a giant sand dune! We were blown away by the geological diversity when we moved here. It’s a big state and right now, there are three major growing regions: The Sonoita AVA, the Willcox AVA and the soon-to-be Verde Valley AVA.

Most fruit is grown in the Willcox AVA of southeastern Arizona. Kansas Settlement in Cochise County is probably the “hub” of that AVA and the fruit from the region has a similar thread. There are quite a few good producers in the area. The Willcox AVA stretches north of the town of Willcox into Graham County. In Graham County, the weather is a little cooler and fruit ripens two or three weeks behind Kansas Settlement. There are also quite a few vineyards south of Willcox and in the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountains.

Sonoita is quite a bit cooler than Willcox and influenced by very different weather patterns. There are fewer wineries in that AVA, but it still houses some of our most prominent producers.

Both regions are large, remote and rural. Tasting more than a few wineries there will take a couple days. Visitors should plan a trip that includes tasting and enjoying some of the history and the beautiful countryside of the area. It’s smart to do some research beforehand to try and determine which wineries you want to visit as there are a lot of styles and approaches in Arizona. Some of our favorites down there are Callaghan Vineyards, Dos Cabezas Wineworks and Rune Wines in Sonoita. In Willcox, there’s Sand-Reckoner, Bodega Pierce, Pillsbury Wine Company, Carlson Creek Vineyards, and several of their neighbors are turning out some great wines.

The Verde Valley is small in terms of vineyard acreage, but there are quite a few wineries up here. It is more centrally located (between Phoenix & Flagstaff) and we tend to get a lot more visitors. A lot of people like to get out of the Phoenix heat and wine country is always a few degrees cooler. There are a lot of tasting rooms and it’s quite possible to visit more than a few in one day. There are also more lodging and culinary options than the other 2 AVA’s. Some of our favorites up here include The D.A. Ranch, Caduceus/Merkin, Page Springs Cellars, Burning Tree Cellars, and Bodega Pierce.

There are still other vineyards outside of these three regions; growers are tackling new frontiers. The most important thing when visiting Arizona wines is to have an open mind and be willing to try new wines, you will not be disappointed.

Winetraveler: How do you measure success? What does the future look like for Chateau Tumbleweed and the Arizona wine scene in general?

CT: Opinion has changed drastically in the past ten years. Success isn’t about big scores or awards, it’s about making a special, local product with character and integrity, and reaching enough people that we can continue to grow, learn, and adapt. It’d be nice if people counted us among the state’s best producers, but hopefully, in the very least, we’re making the kind of juice that represents the state well. Our hope is that we can grow from our current 4,000 case production to 6,000 cases, continue to create jobs and opportunities for our employees, and be positive advocates for wine in our state. Who knows, maybe we’ll even plant our own vineyard someday soon?

Winetraveler: You’re stuck on a remote island. You can only choose one song to play on repeat (as much as you want!), and you can only choose ONE bottle of your wine (any bottle, any vintage, but an unlimited amount). What do you choose for each and why?

CT: Equinox by John Coltrane and our 2018 Cimarron Vineyard Aglianico. It’s a nice, sad song to sip with a well-structured, high acid wine all by yourself.

 

 

Time Posted: Jun 1, 2020 at 12:00 PM Permalink to Arizona Wine? A Conversation with Chateau Tumbleweed (Wine Traveler) Permalink
Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed
 

A Brave New World of North American Wine (Michelin Guide)

ARTICLE LINK

Move over, California. Winemakers across North America are producing a rich diversity of wines—and winning awards. There are few rules or laws around what can be grown here, which gives vintners the freedom to try almost anything. And the wide array of microclimates means that there’s bound to be something for everyone. New York’s Finger Lakes region may specialize in cool-climate wines like riesling, but in Arizona’s dry, arid Verde Valley, varieties like grenache can flourish. Thousands of vineyards and wineries across the region are currently closed for tastings due to Covid-19, but most continue to ship or deliver locally. 

Here are eleven North American wine regions to put on your list.

Canada

British Columbia 
One of Canada’s premier wine regions is the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The 50th parallel is the outer limit for viticulture, and the Okanagan is right below it. Thanks to a variety of microclimates ranging from cool to semi-arid, the region can produce pinot noir, Bordeaux blends, syrah, world class riesling, chardonnay, sparkling wines, and of course ice wines, a Canadian favorite. There are 185 wineries in the Valley alone.  

Look for wines from Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, which won double gold for their 2015 syrah at the Berlin International Wine Competition. You can also take a virtual tour of the winery and follow along with a variety of tasting notes. 

Quebec 
Two hours outside Montreal, in the Eastern Townships, the Brome-Missisquoiwine route runs 140km (87mi), linking 20 wineries and beckoning tasters on two wheels to cruise along four wine cycling trails. Wineries here grow cool-climate grapes like pinot gris and frontenac and, as in British Columbia, produce a spread of white, red, rose, sparkling, and ice wines (and cider).  

Look for La Belle Alliance winery, founded by Carolyn and Brock Dagenais. They produce six bottles, including their 2017 Entre, an orange wine that the Dagenais say “has notes of nectarine and candied ginger on the nose and the palate.”

United States 

Arizona 
Verde Valley, half an hour outside Sedona, is literally the hottest wine growing region in North America. The hot, arid climate is working for vineyards: the Verde Valley Wine Trail has 20-plus wineries, many producing bold reds from cabernet franc, syrah, zinfandel, grenache, and refreshing whites (chardonnay, viognier) that go down well in the toasty climate. 

Look for bottles from Chateau Tumbleweed, which sources its grapes from a dozen local vineyards. The resulting wines include the 2017 Dr. Ron Blot, a Rhône-blend and the 2018 The Descendants (one-third verdelho, two-thirds viognier).

California 
Beyond Napa and Sonoma, California’s other world-class growing region is its Central Coast. There are more than 200 wineries here, from Santa Barbara to just south of San Francisco, and the area has two distinct climates: the cool, coastal areas and those warmer and inland. The coastal areas have cloud cover, a result of moist air, so cool-climate grapes like chardonnay and pinot noir thrive here. Inland, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah (among others) flourish. The 350-mile stretch encompasses 40 AVAs, among them are Santa Rita Hills and Paso Robles.  

Try wines from Desparada, a female-run winery in Paso Robles, where tasting notes are as non-traditional as the winery itself. The 2017 sauvignon blanc, for example, is described as “the moment the piñata breaks, unicorns, licking the Dolomites, South Tyrolean herbs.”  

Or for a Santa Barbara wine, Municipal Winemakers is David Potter’s Funk Zone winery in a former dive shop. There are seven bottles under the Muni line, including a dry, drinkable riesling made with grapes from Kick On Ranch in Los Alamos.

Colorado 
The high-altitude Grand Valley wine region sits over 4,000 feet above sea level, and the higher you go, the stronger the sun is. This more intense exposure leads to grapes with thicker skin, deeper pigmentation, and stronger tannins. Grand Valley has 30 wineries and vineyards, and the high, dry terroir yields merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and chardonnay.  

Try Varaison Vineyards and Winery, Colorado’s most unique winery on the grounds of a handsome brick Victorian house. Kristin and Ron West produce wines with grapes from their own estate (like a chardonnay with notes of pear and kiwi) and from other vineyards in Grand Valley (their pinot noir grapes grow along the banks of the Gunnison River).

New York 
The two main wine-growing regions in New York are the Finger Lakes and Long Island. There are more than 100 wineries in the Finger Lakes, where Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes create a relatively temperate climate. The resulting wines are aromatic whites like gewürztraminer and riesling, and cool-climate reds like pinot noir and cabernet franc. Each of the lakes has its own wine trail you can do by car or on two wheels.

On Long Island, 50-plus vineyards grow a wide range of reds, whites, dessert wines, and sparkling wines, from light-bodied reds like lagrein and refosco to mostly-dry roses and crispy whites that pair perfectly with local seafood like Blue Point Oysters. 

Look for the Finger Lakes winery Hosmer Winery, where young vintner Julia Hoyle and her winegrowing crew produce several rieslings as well as reds like a 2017 lemberger with notes of plum, orange, and vanilla.  

From Long Island, Sparkling Pointe is the only winery exclusively producing sparkling wine in the traditional Méthode Champenoise. Champagne varietals are planted across 40 acres.

North Carolina 
North Carolina has three wine growing regions—coastal, mountain, and the Piedmont plateau— featuring 185 wineries, more than 525 vineyards, and six AVAs. Drive (or cycle) one of North Carolina’s wine trails to taste what’s being grown. In the coastal region, muscadine grapes, native to North Carolina, are used for sweet wines. Vineyards in the mountainous and Piedmont regions of the state grow viognier, chardonnay, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot.  

Try wines from Laurel Gray Vineyards in Swan Creek. The vineyard started in 2001, and across 15 acres now grow pinot gris, cabernets franc and sauvignon, chardonnay, and merlot.

Virginia 
The southern United States is better known for bourbon and whiskey, but Virginia is producing wines across 10 regions, from the Blue Ridge up to Northern Virginia. The state’s wineries vary in elevation; its eastern border is coastal, so vineyards here are at sea level, but in the mountainous west, a vineyard might be at 3,000 feet. Soil varies from limestone to loam and red clay. Such diversity helps Virginia’s wineries grow a wide range of grapes. There are roughly 275 wineries in Virginia growing grapes familiar (chardonnay, merlot) and fresh (petit manseng).  

Find wines from King Family Vineyards, founded by Ellen King and her late husband David. Try the award-winning bottlings of Mountain Plains Red, a blend of petit verdot, cabernet franc and merlot. 

Washington 
The state boasts more than 1,000 wineries producing 70 varieties of wine (59% red, 41% white). Like neighboring Oregon, its climate is temperate, with little rain during the growing season. Cabernet sauvignon dominates, followed by merlot, but chardonnay and riesling also have a good showing.  

Explore the wines of Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, perched on a cliff above the Spokane River Valley, from Kristina Mielke van Löben Sels and her husband Jim. Partnering with five Columbia Valley vineyards, Arbor Crest produces over a dozen reds (merlot, cabernet sauvignon) and a handful of whites such as a sangiovese and riesling blend blush. 

Or find some of the region’s siegerrebe (“victory wine” in German), delightfully summery orange muscat, and mourvèdre.

Oregon 
An hour’s drive from Portland is the hundred-mile-long, 60-mile-wide Willamette Valley, home to 756 vineyards and 592 wineries. The climate is temperate overall, with cool, wet winters and dry, warm (but not hot) summers. This plus the valley’s location just 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean have made it the western US region for cool climate varieties. Two-thirds of what’s produced here is pinot noir, followed by pinot gris, and chardonnay. 

Try wines from Eyrie Vineyards, which was started in 1965 by Diana and David Lett. It was the first in Oregon to cultivate pinot noir and pinot gris, bottling them in 1970. Today, pinot noir, pinot blanc, pinot gris, and a crisp muscat ottonel are made from its 50,000 vines.  

Or try recommendations from sommelier and Robert Parker reviewer Erin Brooks for the region’s chenin blanc or syrah. 

Mexico

Baja California 

Just two hours south of San Diego, in Baja California, is Valle de Guadalupe, where a significant portion of the country’s wine is grown—including a bottling from El Cielo winery that took home gold at international wine competition Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in 2019. It has become a hot destination for oenophiles, who check into boutique hotels like Casa Mayoral, Campera Hotel, and upmarket Bruma. There are more than a hundred wineries in the Valle, where the mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers make the climate similar to that of Spain and parts of Chile. 

Monte Xanic is Mexico’s first boutique winery, opening in 1988. Taste whites (chardonnay or chenin blanc), reds (such as Bordeaux varietals) or a mix of both. The winery has taken home a number of awards, including two silvers at the 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. 

Read more on these destinations and get inspired for future travel at travelguide.michelin.com or with one of our Green Guides, available at your local bookseller.

Time Posted: Apr 15, 2020 at 12:00 PM Permalink to A Brave New World of North American Wine (Michelin Guide) Permalink Comments for A Brave New World of North American Wine (Michelin Guide) Comments (1)
Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed
 
February 18, 2020 | Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed

Chateau Tumbleweed in Clarkdale is a great place to get lost in wine (azfamily.com)

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CLARKDALE, AZ (ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV) -- "So I’m going to punch down the Sierra Bonita vineyard cabernet sauvignon. This is about 30 percent whole cluster. We use the entire cluster to get a little sweetness and tannen and spice from the stems. It’s a really good way to add a depth of mid-pallet," said Kris Pothier. 

It’s a sunny Sunday morning in Clarkdale, a couple of hours before the tasting room at Chateau Tumbleweed opens. "This is about five days into its fermenting process, the conversion is happening, and you can really start to get hints of what the nose is going to be," Pothier said.

Kris Pothier and her husband, Joe Bechard, are busy punching grapes, steaming oak caskets, and preparing to barrel the latest harvest. Kris and Joe, along with another couple, started Chateau Tumbleweed and Tasting Room in 2015, years after first moving to Arizona from Oregon.

"I came here with Kris fresh out of college with my journalism degree and came to write for a local newspaper here in the Verde Valley," said Bechard. That’s when Kris and Joe say they sort of fell backwards into the winemaking business.

"None of us intended to work in wine, none of us intended to be in Arizona. I had never heard of Arizona wine; I didn’t know anything about it and was really curious," the couple said.

A year later, Bechard started working up the road at Page Springs Cellars, essentially putting a cork in his journalism career. "Once I started to get to see Arizona wine, I really fell in love with it, and I really believe in the wines here, and they’re good kinds of wines that I like to drink," Bechard said.

"We all walked into the industry at a time when there weren’t very many people involved, so we were given badges to do things that otherwise people would clamor for or go to school for, so we learned on the job," Pothier said.

After about 15 years of on-the-job training, Kris and Joe, along with their partners, decided to go separate ways. "You know, it’s kind of our own little project, we get to finally say what we wanted to say about Arizona wine and do it in a way that we wanted to do it," Bechard said.

Chateau Tumbleweed has gone from making 2,000 cases to 5,000 a year, and they now work with a dozen vineyards in three counties.

"That’s one thing that’s kind of unique about Chateau Tumbleweed is we don’t have our own vineyards, so we’re sourcing a lot of fruit and what we’ve decided to do is kind of make it educational and exciting and go and show people," Bechard said. "There’s Sangiovese from three different vineyards across Arizona, here’s cab sauv from three different vineyards or four different vineyards."

Like most tasting rooms, they serve wine-flights or by the glass. You can sit on the patio or enjoy the inviting living room setting.

"I’ve been into a lot of tasting rooms in my life that made me feel uncomfortable and want to hug the wall, and that was the only thing really that we intended, that we try to make a warm, engaging space where people came in and wanted to relax and drink some wine," said Pothier

Pothier says guests will find that their wines stand out, not just because of the distinctive labels that she draws, but because of their balance, and because of her husband’s creativity at developing depths of flavors. If you’re a person who likes to think and you want to get lost in wine, his wines are really good to get lost in. 

 

Time Posted: Feb 18, 2020 at 12:00 PM Permalink to Chateau Tumbleweed in Clarkdale is a great place to get lost in wine (azfamily.com) Permalink
Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed
 
November 15, 2019 | Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed

Best wines in Arizona: The 2019 azcentral.com Arizona Wine Competition winners (The Republic | azcentral.com)

Richard Ruelas, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 8:00 p.m. MT Nov. 15, 2019 
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The wine named the best in the state in the 2019 azcentral.com Arizona Wine Competition was made by college students learning viticulture. Apparently, the lessons are going well. 

The 2018 Viognier, a fragrant white wine produced from grapes grown at the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College in Clarkdale, won Best in Show at this year's judging. 

It is the first Best in Show award for students of the Southwest Wine Center. The college won the Growers Cup for Best Rosé in 2017 and has picked up other medals for its wines in previous years. 

The 20 judges in the competition also named the 2018 Viognier from Southwest Wine Center the Best White Wine in the competition and, naturally, the Best Viognier. 

The student-made Viognier bested 219 entries from 32 wineries. 

Wineries pay a fee to enter the contest, which is run by The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com in cooperation with the Arizona Wine Growers Association. Proceeds are donated to fund scholarships and other needs at the Southwest Wine Center. 

The award for Best Red went to the 2016 Garage-East Ray Rd., a Tempranillo-based blend whose name is a nod to the street in Gilbert where the winery is located. The winery also produces another red blend called Higley Rd., after its other cross street. 

Best Rosé went to the 2018 Bodega Pierce Rosé, which is made from Grenache grapes grown at the winery’s Rolling View Vineyard in Willcox. The winemaker for Bodega Pierce is Michael Pierce, who oversees the winemaking program at the Southwest Wine Center. 

Callaghan Vineyards won Best Dessert for its 2015 Amor Fati Malvasia Bianca. That wine is made in a late-harvest style. That means the grapes were left on the vine longer than if they were being made into white wine. The extra time allows for sugars to build up as the grapes are on their way to becoming raisins. 

The Amor Fati was aged in a barrel for four years without being disturbed, making the final product, as the name would indicate, a devotion to fate. 

Kent Callaghan, the winemaker and owner of Callaghan Vineyards, can add this Best Dessert award to previous wins in the competition for Best White, Best Red and Best in Show. Callaghan Vineyards earned more medals than any other winery in the 2019 competition. 

The awards were announced Nov. 15 at a gala at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Phoenix. Most of the winning wines can be sampled at the Grand Wine Festival on Saturday, Nov. 16 at Kierland Commons. 

How the wines were judged 

Judging was held Oct. 21 at the Mountain Shadows Resort in Paradise Valley. The tasting was blind. Judges knew what type of wine they were being served, but not the winery that produced it. 

The judges included sommeliers, chefs, bar managers, wine shop owners and distributors from resorts, restaurants and businesses in the Phoenix area. 

The panel included a mix of judges who had participated in the competition previously and some first-timers. Some judges had extensive knowledge of the state’s wines; others were getting their main exposure to the state’s offerings at the competition. 

Judges were divided into six panels. Each panel tasted a different array of wines. Judges reached a consensus as a panel on which wines earned bronze, silver and gold medals. 

Double gold medals went to wines deemed worthy of a gold medal by each member of a judging panel.
The panels also, at their discretion, gave Best in Class designations to gold-medal wines deemed tops in individual categories. 

Each of the six panels also nominated two wines to be considered for Best in Show. Those 12 wines were then tasted by all the judges to determine the winner. 

2019 azcentral.com Arizona Wine Competition winners 

Best in Show: 2018 Southwest Wine Center Viognier.
Best Red Wine: 2016 Garage-East Ray Rd.
Best White Wine: 2018 Southwest Wine Center Viognier.
Best Rosé: 2018 Bodega Pierce Rosé.
Best Dessert: 2015 Callaghan Vineyards Amor Fati Malvasia Bianca.


Best of Class is awarded in each category at the judges' discretion:
Best of Class Malvasia Bianca: 2018 Southwest Wine Center Malvasia Bianca.
Best of Class Viognier: 2018 Southwest Wine Center Viognier.
Best of Class Rosé Single Varietal: 2018 Bodega Pierce Rosé.
Best of Class Rosé Blend: 2017 Deep Sky Vineyard Nebula.
Best of Class Graciano: 2017 Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery Graciano.
Best of Class Mourvedre: 2017 Pillsbury Wine Company Mourvedre.
Best of Class Monastrell: 2016 Zarpara Vineyard Monastrell.
Best of Class Petite Sirah: 2016 Deep Sky Vineyard Black Hole.
Best of Class Syrah/Shiraz: 2017 Heart Wood Cellars Syrah Reserve.
Best of Class Tannat: 2017 High Lonesome Vineyard Tannat.
Best of Class Tempranillo: 2015 Caduceus Cellars Sancha.
Best of Class Rhone Style Blends: 2017 Pillsbury Wine Company Diva.
Best of Class Bordeaux Style Blends: 2017 Chateau Tumbleweed Cousin Idd.
Best of Class Other Red Blends: 2018 Burning Tree Cellars The Lotus, 2016 Chateau Tumbleweed Earth Cuckoo, 2016 Garage-East Ray Rd.
Best of Class Dessert Late Harvest: 2015 Callaghan Vineyards Amor Fati Malvasia Bianca. 

Double Gold 

2015 Caduceus Cellars le Cortigiane Oneste.
2018 Callaghan Vineyards Tannat.
2017 Four Tails Vineyard Amigos.
2018 Page Springs Cellars Bruzzi Vineyard Vidal Blanc. 2017 Sand-Reckoner Malvasia Bianca.
2018 Southwest Wine Center Carignan.
2018 Southwest Wine Center Refosco.

Gold

2016 Caduceus Cellars Velvet Slippers Club Barbera.
2016 Callaghan Vineyards Cimarron Aglianico.
2017 Callaghan Vineyards Padres.
2016 Chateau Tumbleweed Cimarron Sangiovese.
2018 Dos Cabezas WineWorks White.
2018 Provisioner Wines Provisioner Red.
2018 Provisioner Wines Provisioner White. 

Silver 

2017 Alcantara Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
2018 Alcantara Vineyard Chardonnay.
2017 Alcantara Vineyard Confluence XI.
2017 Alcantara Vineyard Grand Rouge X.
2018 Arizona Stronghold Vineyards Bonita Springs Vineyard Riesling.
2018 Bodega Pierce Malvasia Bianca.
2016 Bodega Pierce Mourvedre.
2015 Bodega Pierce Petite Sirah.
2017 Burning Tree Cellars Colibri Mourvedre.
2017 Burning Tree Cellars The Peddler.
2018 Burning Tree Cellars Trademarked.
2015 Caduceus Cellars Nagual de la Naga.
2018 Caduceus Cellars Nagual del Agostina White.
2017 Callaghan Vineyards Bonita.
2015 Callaghan Vineyards Graciano.
2016 Callaghan Vineyards Padres.
2017 Carlson Creek Vineyard Malbec.
2017 Deep Sky Vineyard Aurora.
2016 Deep Sky Vineyard Eclipse.
2016 Deep Sky Vineyard Supernova.
2018 Dos Cabezas WineWorks Pink.
2017 Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery Estate Tempranillo Dessert.
2017 Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery Spanish Fly.
2017 Four Tails Vineyard Big Paw.
2017 Four Tails Vineyard Double Trouble.
2015 Garage-East Higley Rd.
2017 Heart Wood Cellars Diamond Reserve.
2017 Heart Wood Cellars Petite Sirah.
2018 Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery Prospectors Blend.
2018 Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery Rock Slide.
2018 Laramita Cellars Arizmo.
2017 Mogollon Vineyards Humboldt.
2017 Mogollon Vineyards Malvasia Bianca.
2017 Page Springs Cellars House Mountain Petite Sirah Pick 3.
2018 Page Springs Cellars Nebbiolo Rosé.
2018 Page Springs Cellars Super Arizona.
2018 Page Springs Cellars Vino de la Familia.
2018 Page Springs Cellars Vino de la Familia Blanca.
2017 Pillsbury Wine Company Grenache.
2017 Pillsbury Wine Company Roan Red.
2017 Pillsbury Wine Company Viognier.
2017 Rune Wines Colibri Mourvedre.
2017 Rune Wines Colibri Syrah.
2017 Rune Wines Graciano.
2017 Rune Wines Pillsbury Mourvedre.
2017 Rune Wines Viognier.
2018 Rune Wines Viognier.
2018 Sand-Reckoner Grenache Rosé.
2017 Saeculum Cellars Chardonnay ML+.
2017 Saeculum Cellars Sangiovese.
2018 Southwest Wine Center Big Red.
2018 Southwest Wine Center Nopal.
2014 Winery 101 Chardonnay.
2015 Winery 101 Chenin Blanc.
2016 Winery 101 Cabernet Sauvignon George's Tribute.
2018 Winery 101 Grenache Blanc. 

Bronze 

2018 Alcantara Vineyard Malvasia Bianca.
2017 Alcantara Vineyard Syrah.
2017 Arizona Stronghold Vineyards Dala Cabernet Sauvignon.
2018 Arizona Stronghold Vineyards Deep Sky Vineyard Grenache Clone 515. 2018 Bodega Pierce Chardonnay.
2018 Bodega Pierce Sauvignon Blanc.
2018 Burning Tree Cellars Colibri Rose.
2017 Burning Tree Cellars Hilltop Grenache.
2018 Burning Tree Cellars The Architect.
2017 Callaghan Vineyards Barrett's Rose'.
2016 Callaghan Vineyards Caitlin's.
2017 Callaghan Vineyards Caitlin's.
2017 Callaghan Vineyards Claire's.
2018 Callaghan Vineyards Dry Rose.
2017 Callaghan Vineyards Greg's.
2017 Callaghan Vineyards Rhumb Line Tannat.
2017 Callaghan Vineyards Tannat.
2017 Carlson Creek Vineyard Grenache Rose.
2018 Clear Creek Vineyard & Winery Rose.
2016 Deep Sky Vineyard Stellar.
2016 Dos Cabezas WineWorks Aguileon.
NV Dos Cabezas WineWorks Principrana.
2016 Dos Cabezas WineWorks Toscano.
2017 Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery Big Red Blend.
2018 Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery La Flor.
2017 Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery Sangiovese Classico.
2017 Golden Rule Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.
2017 Heart Wood Cellars Heart.
2018 High Lonesome Vineyard PicPoul Blanc.
2018 Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery Red Canyon Rose.
2018 Laramita Cellars Dos Compadres.
2018 Laramita Cellars Malvasia Bianca.
2017 Merkin Vineyards Tarzan Red.
2016 Mogollon Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.
2018 Page Springs Cellars Colibri Grenache Pick 3.
2018 Page Springs Cellars Painted Lady Gewurztraminer.
2017 Pillsbury Wine Company Malvasia.
2017 Pillsbury Wine Company WildChild Red.
2018 Rune Wines Albariño.
2017 Rune Wines Grenache.
2016 Rune Wines Wild Syrah Private Reserve.
2015 Sand-Reckoner '7'.
2016 Sand-Reckoner 'x' red blend.
2018 Saeculum Cellars Viognier.
2018 Winery 101 Zintimate Blush. 

Judges' favorites 

Here are the judges from the competition and the wine each chose as their favorite.

Craig Dziadowicz, Hidden Track Bottle Shop: 2018 Winery 101 Grenache Blanc; 2017 Pillsbury Wine Company Grenache.
Tracy Dempsey, Tracy Dempsey Originals, ODV Wines: 2018 Bodega Pierce Rosé.
Audrey Everett, Fogo E Chao: 2018 Southwest Wine Center Carignan.
Sarah Foote, The Mission Kierland: 2017 Deep Sky Vineyard Nebula.
Ryan Gardner, Fox Restaurant Concepts: 2016 Chateau Tumbleweed Earth Cuckoo.
Christopher Gross, The Wrigley Mansion: 2017 Deep Sky Vineyard Nebula.
Ian Hidalgo, Action Wines: 2015 Caduceus Cellars Nagual de la Naga.
Joshua James, Clever Koi, The Fellow: 2017 Four Tails Vineyard Amigos.
Raini Keyser, Vinum 55 wine storage: 2017 High Lonesome Vineyard Tannat.
Kevin Lewis, Kai Restaurant at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass resort: 2018 Southwest Wine Center Viognier.
Jason Lothner, Stock & Stable: 2016 Caduceus Cellars Velvet Slippers Club Barbera.
Patrick Norton, The Phoenician: 2015 Caduceus Cellars Nagual de la Naga.
Emily Rieve, GenuWine Arizona: 2018 Southwest Wine Center Viognier.
Lindsey Schoenemann, GenuWine Arizona: 2018 Southwest Wine Center Carignan.
Jefferson Schroeder, Tres Tempe: 2016 Dos Cabezas WineWorks Toscano.
Jared Sowinski, The Phoenician: 2017 Four Tails Vineyard Amigos.
Katie Stephens, Beckett's Table: 2018 Southwest Wine Center Carignan; 2016 Caduceus Cellars Velvet Slippers Club Barbera.
Casey Thorne, Southern Rail: 2016 Garage-East Ray Rd.
Tai Ward, Southern Rail: 2015 Caduceus Cellars Sancha.
Jordan White, Vinum 55 wine storage: 2018 Bodega Pierce Rose. 

 

 

Time Posted: Nov 15, 2019 at 8:00 PM Permalink to Best wines in Arizona: The 2019 azcentral.com Arizona Wine Competition winners (The Republic | azcentral.com) Permalink
Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed
 
November 15, 2019 | Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed

The Wines to Buy This Thanksgiving: A Guide to America’s Up-and-Coming Regions (Wall Street Journal)

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By Lettie Teague
Nov. 15, 2019 11:45 am ET

Full article available by subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt of article that mentions Chateau Tumbleweed:

16. Arizona
2018 Chateau Tumbleweed Cimarron Vineyard Picpoul Blanc Cochise County $28 : Winemaker Joe Bechard characterizes this crisp, dry white as “dangerously chuggable.” It’s sourced from the Cimarron Vineyard, considered Arizona’s very best, planted by Oregon Pinot Noir superstar Dick Erath.

 

 

 

Time Posted: Nov 15, 2019 at 11:45 AM Permalink to The Wines to Buy This Thanksgiving: A Guide to America’s Up-and-Coming Regions (Wall Street Journal) Permalink
Team Member Chateau Tumbleweed
 

The best Arizona wines to sip by the pool this summer (Arizona Republic)

Georgann Yara, Special for Arizona Republic Published 7:30 a.m. MT Aug. 1, 2019 | Updated 2:26 p.m. MT Aug. 21, 2019 

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For the last few years, this mental image has made Arizona winemaker Todd Bostock smile: 

It’s a sunny day on a golf course. A guy driving his cart pulls up and comes to a stop. He prepares a refreshing adult beverage and opens his cooler. It’s packed with aluminum cans dressed in green and gold. And filled with wine. 

“It warms my heart,” said Bostock of Green Wine, his creation in a can for Garage-East, an urban winery in Gilbert’s Barnone of which he’s a partner. “It’s like an alternative to beer.” 

The Green Wine is in part the result of borrowed elements. The logo and colors on the can were made to resemble a beer can from the 1970s, and the contents emulates Vinho Verde, the Portuguese varietal known for being light and spritzy. The combination was what Valley residents who brave summers at home craved. 

“Garage-East is in the Valley, and it’s warm. We wanted to make a wine that would be useful most of the year. We were going for something low alcohol and refreshing,” Bostock said. 

Bostock is also the winemaker and co-owner of Dos Cabezas WineWorks, which is based in Sonoita and in a southern Arizona wine region that features high elevation and cooler temperatures year round. 

The Green Wine comes in totable 375 ml can ($12) – about two glasses worth. At Garage-East, it’s also available by the glass. The current 2018 vintage is the third generation of the wine. It’s a blend of malvasia bianca, reisling and sauvignon blanc. It is no shade of emerald. 

It’s one of the several Arizona wines made for enduring scorching desert summers. It’s also part of a wine packaging revolution that, as Bostock has said, lets wine to go where beer goes. 

What was once considered a trend-of-the-moment has become a $45 million business, according to Nielsen. And while canned wine makes up a fraction of the industry, it’s growing faster than its bottle counterparts. Canned wine sales in the U.S. grew 43 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to alcoholic beverage market research firm BW 166. 

Bostock is a veteran of the practice. His Dos Cabezas canned carbonated pink is among the most sought-after Arizona wines upon its annual release and Dos Cabezas’ Methode Canpenoise – another canned sparkler – was named the state’s top wine in the 2017 Arizona Republic Wine Competition. 

Bostock was prepared for criticism. But he said most consumers understand that opting for a can instead of a bottle is no reflection of the quality of wine inside it. 

“Most people get it. It’s not lame wine in a novel package. It’s the same wine we put in a bottle but in a package you can stick in your pocket,” he said. 

This is time of year when pink and white wines are in high demand. Lindsey Schoenemann, co-owner of downtown Phoenix wine bar GenuWine Arizona, said customers’ first word is “refreshing” when choosing one. 

Currently, rosé is king. Schoenemann’s personal favorite is the Rune Wines 2017 Rosé ($20), a crisp blend of grenache, syrah, mourvedre, petite sirah and graciano. 

When it comes to local white wines, Schoenemann is a fan of Arizona viogniers. She really likes the 2017 Pretty Girl Viognier from Four Tails Vineyard ($25). 

“This one is well-balanced, mineral and fruity. It’s really easy to drink,” she said. 

But this doesn’t mean reds don’t get any love when temps hit triple digits. Schoenemann enjoys red wine year round. Some may wish to chill their reds down in a bottle chiller or refrigerator for a few minutes, but she likes it at room temperature. Right now, Schoenemann is loving the Sand-Reckoner Vineyard 2016 R ($23), a blend of syrah, tannat, zinfandel and petite sirah. 

“It’s a little bit spicy but still refreshing and well-balanced. I love it with a meal ... like a black bean burger,” she said. 

From porch pounders to palate-smacking sippers, here are the homegrown wines that should be filling your glass when temperatures soar. Prices vary at retail locations. 

Carlson Creek Vineyard, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc ($23)
This straw-colored refresher’s light herbal inflection with hints of grilled pineapple and vanilla custard recently scored 91 points and a gold medal in the 2019 World Wine Championships. Light enough for poolside solo sipping with just enough personality to stand up to dishes like chicken fajitas or tofu banh mi. Don’t let the older vintage fool you. This vineyard is known for churning out white wines that peak gracefully with age.
Details: carlsoncreek.com (https://carlsoncreek.com/). 

Callaghan Vineyards, 2017 Love Muffin ($28)
This intoxicating blend of malvasia bianca, viogner, marsanne and rousanne entices in a friendly way as lychee and apricot permeate the nose and palate, waxing all the quenching ripeness that the season has to offer. A teeny spicy finish makes the encounter memorable.
Details: callaghanvineyards.com (https://www.callaghanvineyards.com/). 

Page Springs Cellars, 2018 Vino del Barrio Blanca ($16) 
One of this popular winery’s most high-profile offerings, this white boasts a union of eight varietals, with the heavy lifting done by malvasia bianca, pinot gris, viognier, vermintino and French colombard. The profile changes slightly each year depending on the blend but hitting all the right notes with hints of tropical fruit, citrus and pear that’s balanced with just enough minerality is the constant.
Details: pagespringscellars.com (http://pagespringscellars.com/).

Dos Cabezas WineWorks, 2018 El Campo Blanco ($30)
This brand new release was bottled in July and is anxious to play. It boasts a blend primarily comprised of rousanne and viognier, a Rhone duo that results in a refreshingly balanced sip.
Details: doscabezas.com (http://www.doscabezas.com/). 

Pillsbury Wine Company, 2017 WildChild White ($25)
Filmmaker-turned-winemaker Sam Pillsbury’s WildChild wines have been perennial pleasers for years, and his white blend is especially beloved when temperatures soar. An aromatic melding of symphony, viognier, malvasia bianca and chardonnay, this holds its own alone as well as paired with flavorful seafood dishes like grilled mahi mahi dressed with a mango salsa. It was also a double gold medal winner at this year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Details: pillsburywine.com (http://www.pillsburywine.com/). 

Merkin Vineyards, 2018 Puscifer Queen B Sparkling Rosé ($12)
This can of bubbly was made for summer picnics, hikes and San Diego beach escapes. Made from 100 percent mourvedre rather than the mainstream Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, this sparkling pink carries a bit more heft, zero sweetness and the ability to play nice with most summertime eats.
Details: merkinoldtownscottsdale.com (http://merkinoldtownscottsdale.com/). 

Chateau Tumbleweed 2017 Rosé ($25)
Don’t be fooled by the dark shade that may conjure up Kool-Aid memories. This bone-dry rosé made with barbera, sangiovese and grenache is far from sugary sweet. It also packs enough berry fruit and crispness to make it a versatile buddy for noshing.
Details: chateautumbleweed.com (http://www.chateautumbleweed.com/). 

Lightning Ridge Cellars, 2017 Montepulciano ($28)
Winemaker Ann Roncone specializes in Italian varietals, and this red is among her estate-grown wines. It’s medium-bodied but light enough to go with hearty grilled vegetables and stand up to steaks. A peppery finish gives it a playful kick.
Details: lightningridgecellars.com (http://lightningridgecellars.com/). 

File this away for summer 2020: Garage-East Rosé Pops 

Another Garage-East grab-and-go summer favorite is the rosé pop — kind of like a wine Otter Pop. Bostock worked with Tempe-based pastry chef Tracy Dempsey to come up with a recipe that allowed them to freeze yet kept its shape, texture and flavor. 

The pops are sold out, but put them on your next summer’s to-drink list.
Bostock said of the inspiration for the adult treat: “Everything is so serious. We wanted to have some fun.” 

If you’re looking for a good selection of Arizona wines and want to avoid the big box booze stores and grocers, head to these independent wine shops. Whether you’re very familiar with local wines or a newbie taking your first steps into the homegrown scene, chances are great that you’ll have your questions answered by someone who can help you navigate the terroir. 

Arcadia Premium: 5618 E. Thomas Road, Suite 100, Phoenix. 602-464-9000, arcadiapremium.com (https://arcadiapremium.com/arcadiapremium/). 

Bottle Shop 48: 3318 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. 480-820-0804, bottleshop48.com (http://bottleshop48.com/).

GenuWine Arizona: 888 N. First Ave., Phoenix. 602-682-7494, genuwinearizona.com (https://genuwinearizona.com/).

Hidden Track Bottle Shop: The Monroe, 111 W. Monroe St., Suite 120, Phoenix. 602-566-7932, hiddentrackbottleshop.com (https://www.hiddentrackbottleshop.com/).

ODV Wines: 1325 W. University Drive, Tempe. 602-376-9021, odvwines.com (https://odvwines.com/).

Sphinx Date Co.: 3039 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-941-2261, sphinxdateranch.com (https://www.sphinxdateranch.com/). 

 

Time Posted: Aug 1, 2019 at 7:30 AM Permalink to The best Arizona wines to sip by the pool this summer (Arizona Republic) Permalink