Winemaker of the Month
Wine Business Monthly names Joe Bechard Winemaker of the Month in May 2022!
“Working in a wine “frontier” can get lonely sometimes. Seeking advice, finding information, making smart purchases, forming relationships with suppliers: everything is more difficult from a distance. Wine Business Monthly is one of the best resources I have to keep up on new research, products, equipment, market trends and to stay connected to the greater industry.”
ANNUAL CASE PRODUCTION: Currently 5,000 cases for Chateau
Tumbleweed (growing annually) and 1,500 cases for our partners
at D.A. Ranch Vineyards.
PLANTED ACRES: We source fruit from 10 to 12 vineyards every year.
Mostly from the Willcox AVA in southeastern AZ, but also from
here in the Verde Valley AVA when we can. We need to get to work
on a vineyard ASAP – fruit is scarce in Arizona. We’re very lucky
to have some great relationships.
CAREER BACKGROUND: I fell in love with Oregon Pinot and wine
more broadly while in journalism school at the University of
Oregon, but never planned to work in the business. When I moved
to Sedona for my first newspaper job in 2004, I discovered that
Arizona had a tiny wine industry (fewer than 10 bonded wineries
at the time). I left the newspaper before the 2005 harvest and
became a cellar rat. I spent the next 10 years working for several
wineries in the Verde Valley (most notably Page Springs Cellars
and Merkin Vineyards/Four-Eight Wineworks) before opening
Chateau Tumbleweed in 2015 with my wife and two of our best
industry friends. We are also partners with the Petznick family,
owners of D.A. Ranch Vineyard. (There are now more than 100
bonded wineries in our state.)
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE? Operating
a small winery with fairly shallow pockets in an upstart wine
region brings new challenges every day! It’s humbling. Luckily wine
teaches patience, perseverance and gratitude for the little things.
We’re fortunate that we get to be ourselves and have a good time
while also making wines we’re immensely proud of.
VARIETALS THAT YOUR WINERY IS KNOWN FOR: We’ve had more than
30 different varietals pass through our doors. The experimentation
and discovery is a huge part of what draws me to Arizona wine.
We make several larger blends and a wide range of vineyard and
varietally designated wines. Picpoul Blanc, Graciano, Cabernet
Franc, Sangiovese and Mourvedre are probably some of our
favorites right now.