Wine and Soul
Written by TJ Keough from Green Living Magazine
To some, great wine has acquired a reputation for stuffiness, but those who would apply that label to all wineries have certainly never visited Chateau Tumbleweed.
Located in Clarksdale, Arizona, this fun and unconventional member of the Verde Valley Wine consortium has set out to break the mold and stamp out all those stuffy stereotypes to boot. According to Kris Pothier, co-owner of Chateau Tumbleweed, “We take our winemaking seriously, but we laugh at ourselves. We are building a business from a lot of love, and it attracts love to us.”
The history of Chateau Tumbleweed goes back to 2011, where the first vintage, a mere 75 cases, was released. The business side of the winery has grown markedly since then – now producing 5500 cases a year – but Kris and her husband, Joe Bechard, have never lost sight of the impetus behind it, nor of their origin story. Originally from Oregon, Kris and Joe were both hired by Page Springs Cellars (another member of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium) in 2008, where they ultimately met their future business partners. “The four of us saw the industry starting to grow and realized we had complementary skill sets and our own point of view, so we started work on a business plan.” The result was Chateau Tumbleweed.
The next question is probably the most obvious one. Where did the name come from? And true to form, the answer here merits a chuckle. “We blew in and got stuck in the fence of AZ wine,” Kris says.
One glance at the eclectic wine labels (designed by Kris, herself) will tell you this is not your run-of-the-mill winery. But the real charm of Chateau Tumbleweed lies in its commitment to sustainability. While not normally thought of as a low-water use crop, a mature Arizona grapevine, according to Kris, requires less than a sixth as much water as many other crops. And Chateau Tumbleweed owns no vineyards of its own, instead sourcing the fruit from estates in Willcox and Cornville, AZ. “Wine is a great agricultural product for these times,” Kris explains. “Our winemaking practices are minimally invasive and organic. We let nature do the talking and keep a clean and tidy protocol, so we do not have to use additives.”
The winery offers three wine flights—light, red blends, and deluxe. Each flight features four wines developed to complement each other. This is truly a busy, modern winery. The tasting room is open 7 days a week from noon to 7PM. The Tumbleweed Wine Club is 600 members strong and growing. Once each month, the Chateau hosts Vibe Nights, featuring various music genres and a food truck. A lot of exhausting work goes into producing all that. “Making wine is a hard endeavor,” Kris admits. “It is expensive and labor intensive and not for the faint of heart. But we feel blessed to be in this industry, hard work and all.”
If you’re in the mood for a completely low-key wine experience, pay Chateau Tumbleweed a visit. The wine is excellent, the people are fun, and the views of Sycamore Canyon are spectacular. It is a remarkable place with an equally remarkable story. For Kris Pothier, it’s been a labor of love.
“There is a special thing that happens with wine,” she says. “We bottle communication in nature, and it is an honor to be a steward of that.”