Tumbleweed in the news
2017 azcentral Arizona Wine Competition winners: The best does not come in a bottle (The Republic | azcentral.com)
Richard Ruelas, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 9:00 p.m. MT Jan. 26, 2018 | Updated 11:22 a.m. MT Jan. 27, 2018
The winner of the 2017 azcentral Arizona Wine Competition marked two firsts: It is the first sparkling wine to win the contest and the first to not come packaged in a bottle.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks Methode Canpenoise, the sparkling wine named Best in Show, is sold by the can.
The bubbly wine is fermented by yeast added into that can, the same method used with Champagnes and sparkling wines that are fermented in bottles. That is called methode champenoise; Dos Cabezas plays on that with its Methode Canpenoise name.
Dos Cabezas, co-owned by Todd and Kelly Bostock, begins with a non-vintage rose wine of Riesling, Grenache and Tempranillo grapes. Yeast is then added to the can so it ferments.
Bottles of Champagne are usually disgorged of yeast after fermentation. But the yeast is still present in the Dos Cabezas sparkling, settling at the bottom of the can. Careful pouring keeps it out of the glass. The spent yeast is not harmful; just a little bitter.
But consumers will only need to worry about that if they can get their hands on a can. The Sonoita winery initially released just a small amount of the unique wine in November at $48 for a 1-liter can. Those cans, according to the Dos Cabezas website, are sold out. The next release is not known.
The Growers Cup for the best red wine in the contest was the 2015 Callaghan Vineyards Aglianico. That grape is typically grown in the southern region of Italy. This wine was made from grapes grown at Cimarron Vineyards in Willcox, a vineyard owned by the Bostocks.
The Growers Cup for the best white wine went to Pillsbury Wine Co.’s 2016 WildChild White, a white blend grown on Sam Pillsbury’s Willcox-area vineyard. Pillsbury, a New Zealand film director, has operated his namesake vineyard and winery since 2000.
The Growers Cup award for the best rosé wine went to the students of the Southwest Wine Center in Clarkdale. The 2017 Amphoria is a pink wine made with Sangiovese grapes grown on the Yavapai College campus. The college offers degree programs in grape-growing and winemaking and students, as part of their course work, take part in all aspects of winemaking, from the vineyard to the label design.
The Growers Cup for dessert wines went to the Arizona Stronghold Vineyards 2016 Bruzzi Vineyards Vidal Blanc. The grapes, as the name suggests, come from the Bruzzi Vineyards in Young. Arizona Stronghold won the Growers Cup for dessert in the 2016 competition as well, for a Vidal Blanc wine called “Zas.”
Callaghan has won three Growers Cups and two Best In Show Awards.
Dos Cabezas has won a Growers Cup for its rose and was last year’s Growers Cup winner for red wine. Pillsbury won a Growers Cup for dessert in 2014.
It is the first cup win for the Southwest Wine Center.
The competition was held Dec. 11 at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Phoenix.
Twenty-four judges, a mix of chefs, sommeliers, out-of-state winemakers, restaurant managers and wine shop owners, were divided into six four-person panels to taste more than 200 entries.
Each panel tasted a portion of the more than 200 entries, choosing the winners of the subcategories listed below. Each panel then picked two wines to push forward to the sweepstakes round.
All 24 judges tasted those 12 wines. The top awards were picked through this tasting. The tasting was blind; the judges knew the types of wines, but not who made it.
The judges also didn’t know — until the awards were announced — that the wine they selected as best came from a can.
2017 azcentral Arizona Wine Competition winners Best In Show
Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Methode Canpenoise
Best Red Wine
1st Place: Callaghan Vineyards, 2015 Aglianico
2nd Place: Flying Leap VIneyards & Distillery, 2015 Petit Verdot
3rd Place: Carlson Creek Vineyard, 2013 Rule of Three
Best White Wine
1st Place: Pillsbury Wine Company, 2016 WildChild White
2nd Place: Pillsbury Wine Company, 2015 Malvasia Bonnie Lee 3rd Place: Bodega Pierce, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
1st Place: Southwest Wine Center, 2017 Amphoria
2nd Place: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, 2016 Pink
3rd Place: Page Springs Cellars, 2016 La Flor Rosa
Best Dessert wine
1st Place: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, 2016 Bruzzi Vineyards Vidal Blanc
2nd Place: Wilhelm Family Vineyards, Sunset
3rd Place: Carlson Creek Vineyard, 2013 Sweet Adeline Riesling
Each of the six panels picked two wines they thought merited consideration as the best wine of the competition. Here are those wines:
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, 2016 Bruzzi Vineyards Vidal Blanc
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, 2016 Tazi
Bodega Pierce, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
Callaghan Vineyards, 2015 Aglianico
Carlson Creek Vineyard, 2013 Rule of Three
Dos Cabezas WineWorks #Methode Canpenoise
Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery, 2015 Petit Verdot
Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery, 2015 Sangiovese
Pillsbury Wine Company, 2015 Malvasia Bonnie Lee
Pillsbury Wine Company, 2015 Viogner
Pillsbury Wine Company, 2016 WildChild
White Salvatore Vineyards, 2014 Sangiovese
Best Cabernet Franc
1st Place: Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery, 2016 Cabernet Franc
2nd Place: Bodega Pierce, 2015 Cabernet Franc
3rd Place: Golden Rule Vineyards, 2015 Cabernet Franc
Best Cabernet Sauvignon
1st Place: Alcantara Vineyards and Winery, 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
2nd Place: Page Springs Cellars, 2014 Bonita Springs Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
3rd Place: Saeculum Cellars, 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
1st Place: Rune, 2015 Grenache - Pillsbury Vineyard
2nd Place: Rune, 2015 Grenache - Colibri Vineyard
1st Place: Deep Sky Vineyard, 2015 Big Bang
2nd Place: Coronado Vineyards, 2015 Malbec
1st Place: Alcantara Vineyards and Winery, 2015 Merlot
1st Place: Alcantara Vineyards and Winery, 2015 Mourvedre
2nd Place: Pillsbury Wine Company. 2015 Mourvedre Reserve
3rd Place: Bodega Pierce, 2015 Mourvedre
Best Petit Verdot
1st Place: Flying Leap VIneyards & Distillery, 2015 Petit Verdot
2nd Place: The Oddity Wine Collective, 2016 Datura
3rd Place: Golden Rule Vineyards, 2015 Petit Verdot
Best Petite Sirah
1st Place: Rune, 2015 Petite Sirah
2nd Place: Alcantara Vineyards and Winery, 2015 Petite Sirah
1st Place: Salvatore Vineyards, 2014 Sangiovese
2nd Place: Flying Leap Vineyards & Distillery, 2015 Sangiovese
3rd Place: Winery 101 - Gallifant Cellars, 2014 Sangiovese
1st Place: Winery 101 - Gallifant Cellars, 2014 Syrah
2nd Place: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, 2015 Syrah "Club Selection"
3rd Place: Page Springs Cellars, 2012 Colibri Vineyard Syrah Clone 174
1st Place: Chateau Tumbleweed, 2015 Cimarron Vineyard Tempranillo
2nd Place: Zarpara Vineyard, 2015 Tempranillo
1st Place: Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery, 2016 Zinfandel
2nd Place: Bodega Pierce, 2016 Zinfandel
3rd Place: Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery, 2016 Legacy Zinfandel
Best Rhone-Style Blend
1st Place: Carlson Creek Vineyard, 2013 Rule of Three
2nd Place: Golden Rule Vineyards, 2015 Commonwealth
3rd Place: Pillsbury Wine Company, 2014 Diva
Best Non-traditional Red Blend
1st Place: Southwest Wine Center, 2016 Puente
2nd Place (tie): Chateau Tumbleweed, 2016 Le Blend
2nd Place (tie): Salvatore Vineyards, 2014 Cerca
3rd Place: Winery 101 - Gallifant Cellars, 2014 Super Tuscan
1st Place: Burning Tree Cellars, 2014 Trademarked
2nd Place: Winery 101 - Gallifant Cellars, 2014 Chardonnay
3rd Place: Pillsbury Wine Company, 2016 Chardonnay
Best Malvasia Bianca
1st Place: Pillsbury Wine Company, 2015 Malvasia Bonnie Lee
2nd Place: Callaghan Vineyards, 2016 Ann's
3rd Place: Page Springs Cellars, 2016 Dos Padres Malvasia Bianca
Best Sauvignon Blanc
1st Place: Bodega Pierce, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
2nd Place: Carlson Creek Vineyard, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc
1st Place: Pillsbury Wine Company, 2015 Viognier
2nd Place: Saeculum Cellars, 2016 Viognier
3rd Place: Salvatore Vineyards, 2015 Viognier
Best White Blend
1st Place: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, 2016 Tazi
2nd Place: Pillsbury Wine Company, 2016 WildChild White
3rd Place: Bodega Pierce, 2016 Pandora
Best Rosé Varietal
1st Place: Southwest Wine Center, 2017 Amphoria
2nd Place: Page Springs Cellars, 2016 La Flor Rosa
3rd Place: Mogollon Vineyards, 2016 Grenache Rose
Best Rosé Blend
1st Place: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, 2016 Pink
2nd Place: Callaghan Vineyards, 2016 Dry Rose' 3rd Place: Chateau Tumbleweed, 2016 Rose
Best Late-Harvest Dessert
1st Place: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, 2016 Bruzzi Vineyards Vidal Blanc
2nd Place: Carlson Creek Vineyard, 2013 Sweet Adeline Riesling
3rd Place: Alcantara Vineyards and Winery, 2016 Riesling Dolce
Best Port-Style Dessert
1st Place: Wilhelm Family Vineyards, Sunset
1st Place: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Methode Canpenoise
2nd Place: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, 2016 Carbonated Pink
2 Arizona wineries named Best In Class at San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (The Republic | azcentral.com)
Richard Ruelas, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 7:02 a.m. MT Jan. 18, 2018 | Updated 1:11 p.m. MT Jan. 18, 2018
Two Arizona wineries, Chateau Tumbleweed and Lightning Ridge Cellars, and have won Best In Class awards at the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
The two wins are a first for Arizona wines in the largest U.S. wine competition.
Chateau Tumbleweed won for the best Viogner priced above $25 for its 2016 Viogner, made from grapes grown at the Deep Sky Vineyard in Willcox.
Lightning Ridge Cellars won for the best Montepulciano for its 2013 vintage, made with grapes grown on its vineyard in Sonoita.
Both bottles retail for $28.
Chateau Tumbleweed's wine can be found at some AJ's Fine Foods and Whole Foods Market locations. It can also be found at wine shops, including Central Wine, Hidden Track Bottle Shop and ODV Wines.
Lightning Ridge's wine (http://lightningridgecellars.com/) is available through its Sonoita tasting room. Orders can be taken online or by phone.
The best in class award means that judges declared it the best wine of its category. Only one of those awards is given for each category. The competition attracted 6,960 entries, according to its website. Judging was in January and the results were announced this week.
In all, 14 Arizona wineries won medals at the competition, including three wineries awarded Double Gold medals. That designation reflects the unanimous ruling of gold by each judge that tasted the wine.
The Double Gold winners are:
Callaghan Vineyards for its 2016 Ann’s, a Malvasia Bianca.
Pillsbury Wine Co. for its 2015 Guns and Kisses Shiraz.
Chateau Tumbleweed for its 2016 Miss Sandy Jones white blend.
Gold medals were won by Alcantara Vineyards, Aridus Wine Company, Arizona Angel, Callaghan Vineyards, Javelina Leap Vineyard and Winery, Passion Cellars and Pillsbury Wine Company.
Next week, look for the results of the azcentral Arizona Wine Competition, which is restricted to wines made in Arizona with grapes grown in the state.
Double Gold, Gold medal winners
The Arizona Wine Growers Association compiled a list of the Double Gold and Gold medal-winning wines in the Chronicle's wine competition.
Callaghan Vineyards 2016 Ann's.
Chateau Tumbleweed 2016 Miss Sandy Jones.
Pillsbury Wine Company 2015 Guns and Kisses Shiraz.
Alcantara Vineyards 2015 Confluence IX.
Aridus Wine Company 2015 Tempranillo.
Aridus Wine Company 2016 Malvasia Bianca.
Arizona Angel Aritage White.
Callaghan Vineyards 2016 Dry Rose.
Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery 2016 Syrah.
Passion Cellars 2016 Malvasia Bianca.
Pillsbury Wine Company 2016 Chardonnay.
Pillsbury Wine Company 2014 Guns and Kisses Shiraz.
Pillsbury Wine Company 2016 Viognier.
Severe weather has wreaked havoc with winemakers on both sides of the Atlantic this spring. As adjusting with the elements is a staple of agriculture, Arizona winemakers and aficionados anxiously watched destructive flames approach Sonoita, the state’s oldest continuous viticultural area located south of Tucson. Meanwhile, Sonoita-Elgin, its counterpart in France’s Bordeaux and Burgundy regions, was taking extreme measures to keep vineyards warm through the night, fighting off the worst frost events since 1991 with up to 60 percent of French vineyards at least partly affected.
Setting hay bales on fire overnight was common, and estates that could afford it had helicopters hover over their vines all night to keep air circulating. And as the copper state’s high-altitude vineyards also experienced with temperatures near freezing, parts of Burgundy’s famous Chardonnay-producing region, Chablis, even resorted to a most delicate technique whereby vines are purposely coated with ice so they remain above freezing (think of the igloo effect).
In the world-famous Bordeaux region, extreme frost events are less common than in Burgundy and other more northern and less coastal wine-producing areas. But this year, Bordeaux’s Right Bank (eastern parts) experienced devastating frost, including the famous wine hamlets of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, killing this year’s new growth in many areas.
Jan Thienpont, president of the Francs-Cotes de Bordeaux appellation (or winemaking sub region), decides what emergency agricultural and financial measures will be allowed this year. He and his counterparts have released a dire set of emergency measures, including various types of indemnities and subsidies, permission to buy grapes for other local vineyards but with constraints on how the wine can be marketed, and simpler processes for laying off workers. Thienpont remains optimistic that tackling this season’s issues fits with long-term changes to Bordeaux’s winemaking protocols motivated by a desire for increased environmental stewardship and sustainability. “Despite the challenges, we remain devoted to what I call the “green revolution” in Bordeaux and in my appellation,” he said.
Arizona suffered from similar but much less catastrophic frost events this year, fueled by the same early spring, warm temperatures and soils primed by a wet winter. That same wet winter has also spawned more brush and grass that can feed wildfires, like the Sawmill Fire that threatened Sonoita. Jeff Hendricks, co-owner of the Clarkdale-based winery Chateau Tumbleweed and an experienced vineyard manager in Northern and Southeastern Arizona, knows these concerns all too well. “In Arizona, bud burst occurs in late March through early April and frost dangers are said to be over between May first to the 15th depending on how optimistic you are,” said Hendricks, who also served as vineyard manager for Cornville’s Page Springs Cellars. “Spring frosts are a huge concern for newly established vineyards especially. In a young vineyard, the defoliation of a frost event can cause death. In mature plants, the danger is fruit loss and not usually mortality. Once every 10 years or so, you have a catastrophic frost that wipes out a sizable portion of the fruit load (50 percent or more), but your typical frost event is a much smaller percentage loss. For the 10 years I’ve farmed here, I’ve never seen a completely frost-free spring. At best, there are still a dozen plants or so that get nipped.”
During his tenure in Arizona, Hendricks has had to resort to the radical solutions to which France’s vintners recently resorted. “For your typical inversion frost event, frost moves from above and slides over the topography like molasses. It moves slowly and it seems like the only time damage occurs is when it settles in a pocket, valley or wash for a sustained period. Hillside vineyards see much less risk. Tarps, barriers, fans and fires can help with these events. Barriers are a good way to divert the slow-moving frost for local problem areas. Advection events will destroy any vines, hillside or not. Fans and barriers won’t help. The entire air mass in the area drops to below freezing. This is when heaters or fire will save you. We do a fire every 40 feet in a grid and keep the fires burning low. We did this a dozen or so times for Page Springs. We’d be up all night feeding fires but in all cases, we saved much of the crop.”
Ironically, in June 2016, Page Springs Cellars was threatened by a quick moving brush fire that sparked on an adjacent empty property. All local firefighters were called and the blaze extinguished before any vines or property were damaged.
And while a few tales of wildfires near vineyards have happy endings – such as Southeastern Arizona’s 2011 vintage that yielded some interestingly smoke- tainted red wines – most are terrifying ordeals that put enormous stress on people and the places they tirelessly steward. “Increasing wildfires in the area are a huge concern,” Hendricks added. “A fire close to a vineyard cluster could potentially wipe out an entire vintage across a huge swath.”
Like Hendricks, Thienpont’s hardest job is mitigating and dealing with nature’s curveballs, but his leadership role in Bordeaux also makes him an optimistic cheerleader for the industry. “Despite the frost, life goes on!” Only vintners who make ice wine, whereby very late-harvest grapes need to freeze on the vine, might argue that statement. FBN
By Tom Vitron
ROBERT ISENBERG | MAY 12, 2017 | 6:00AM
When you see a bottle of Chateau Tumbleweed in the wine aisle, you might do a double-take. Whoa! you think. Those people have no heads!
Well, not no heads. Their crania have been replaced with a scraggly bunch of tumbleweed, drawn in intricate pen-and-ink. It's creepy and funny at the same time, and you have to wonder where such a surreal idea came from.
"We started to develop these wines as people, as family members," says Kris Pothier, co-owner of Chateau Tumbleweed and the artist behind its eccentric labels. "We came up with images that feel like the wines feel. It's fun to come up with fresh content all the time. This is a pretty competitive industry, and you want to create something that everyone is talking about."
The winery is a small business based in Cottonwood. Pothier started Chateau Tumbleweed in 2011 with her husband, Joe Bechard, and fellow couple Kim Koistinen
and Jeff Hendricks. In the half-decade since, their unlikely startup has become something of a local legend. The Arizona wine industry is still pretty modest, despite its own Wine Growers Association. Chateau Tumbleweed has gained some attention as a startup run by Gen Xers, and the labels have caught extra attention.
"The four of us riff really well together," says Pothier. "That's what makes our business really tight. We sit together and drink wine and come up with these funny names. I used to make silly line drawings of things Joe said when he was drunk. Suddenly, we were making wine, and we needed to come up with a label."
Now 42, Pothier hails from the Northwest and has a lively bohemian personality to match. After growing up in Seattle, Pothier and Bechard lived in Eugene, Oregon, where they enjoyed the college town's rich and offbeat culture.
"We used to have this group of friends to party with," she recalls. "I would go to bookstores, sit at a typewriter. Eugene was such a different life. I lived for five years with an artist, and he taught me how to draw. He had an old-school method. He was very underground, unexposed to normal life."
This unconventional creativity stuck with her, even when Pothier and Bechard moved to Arizona. Pothier worked briefly in the film industry, then shifted her attention to Chateau Tumbleweed, but the desire to compose drawings by hand has never
waned. Here was a chance to put that talent to good use, by creating labels that look like they come out of high-concept comic books.
The drawings may looks simple and free, but they're actually the result of an elaborate digital process.
"[First] I draw them, then reduce them to basically cookie-cutters so we can put them into Photoshop," Pothier explains by e-mail. "Jeff [Hendricks] takes control of the process from there, then I come back in to decide on colors. Then the image goes into [Adobe] Illustrator for the background and font. Also, our labels are super nerdy on the back, so Joe collects all of the pertinent info and passes it to Jeff. Then we edit a billion times and send to the federal government for approval, then they go to the Paragon label company for printing."
While many of their labels are merely descriptive, several have distinct characters, such as "Cousin Id," "Will E. Cox," "Lil Frankie," and "Earth Cuckoo." Each portrait incorporates the same tumbleweed image, usually replacing the figure's face, although the tumbleweed is often just a presence: Rolling View Vineyard shows an elephant balancing on the tumbleweed just like a circus ball. The figures are drawn without heads, and only two different tumbleweed drawings are used; one or the other is digitally inserted into the composition.
Given the growing popularity of the images, it's easy to imagine a gallery show of those original drawings. But the quartet is kept busy crafting and bottling their stock, and they're not sure exactly what to do with the artwork.
"There's just a huge folder [of sketches] in my drawing area," Pothier says. "We talk about making coloring books. They are really neat on their own. But they're headless, so they're kind of weird."
Follow Pothier on Instagram @chateautumbleweed to learn more about the wine and to see more labels.
by Darla Hoffmann
The voyage of life can be much like that of a tumbleweed. We break away from our roots and go where the wind takes us. We might get stuck when there are obstacles in our way, but when we come across wide-open spaces, we can’t be stopped. This is the story of two determined husband and wife teams and their road trip to Chateau Tumbleweed.
The four owners, Kris Pothier, Joe Bechard, Kim Koistinen and Jeff Hendricks met around 12 years ago working at Page Springs Cellars in Cornville, Arizona. Kim and Jeff had been in the industry for some time but up until then Kris and Joe had only considered themselves cellar rats. All four of them played different roles, honed their skills and gained an incredible amount of knowledge. For a period of time thereafter, each of them explored various opportunities at different vineyards, wineries and careers in the arts in addition to Page Springs.
The talented foursome drew attention from prominent winemakers, and were quite possibly being recognized as the future of Arizona wines. Youth combined with ambition make for a promising marriage in the wine industry. Maynard Keenan, owner of Caduceus cellars and former rock star, saw great things in these wind travelers and approached them about making their own wine at his Four Eight Wineworks co-op. This is a facility he created to allow winemakers with a high level of skill, but not a hefty bank account, to make wine. It is a shared space with a press, destemmer, crush equipment, bottling line and fermentation tanks all funded by Keenan. Keenan was faced with some legality issues at first because rotating use in one location was not specifically allowed under Arizona state law. Therefore, his guinea pigs had to make wine under Keenan’s Caduceus license. The laws were changed in 2014 and Four Eight Wineworks now runs as a true cooperative. Chateau Tumbleweed made three vintages there never losing sight of their goal to open their own winery. All four owners worked other jobs while breathing life into Tumbleweed at the co-op. The Petznick family, owners of the historic D.A. Ranch in Cornville, took notice of their hard work as well and not only extended employment, but invested in their solo operation.
In 2015, Chateau Tumbleweed broke roots from Four Eight and took their own building on Highway 89A. They’ve done two harvests on their own and are already seeing a need for expansion on their property. When asked how they came up with the name for their winery, Pothier said: “We had no intent to be in Arizona or in wine. We kind of got stuck in the fence of the wine industry.” They are expressing their appreciation of freedom by experimenting with different winemaking styles, varietals, types of oak, and yeast. They also use fun labels with ornate drawings incorporating the tumbleweed.
I had the pleasure of tasting their 2015 “Miss Sandy Jones” Chardonnay and Verdelho blend, along with their fresh and spicy 2015 “Cimarron Vineyard” Graciano made in whole cluster fermentation. Additionally, Pothier and her benevolent character, sent me home with the 2015 “Will E. Cox” red blend and the 2014 “Cimarron Vineyard” Tempranillo. There is an embodiment of cutting-edge style to their wines as well as their individual personalities. They are staying true to who they are as well.
“We take our winemaking very seriously, but not ourselves. We like to have fun and take out the ‘snobby’ of wine,” said Bechard.
As they tumble into new ideas, they are spreading their seeds across Arizona, guaranteeing that there will be more tumbleweeds in the future. They don’t have their own vineyard yet but this is something they are hoping to roll into as well. For now, they source from 10 different vineyards mostly in Willcox in Southeast Arizona. So, as the song goes, “As tumbling tumbleweeds go, they have plans of drifting along with nowhere and everywhere to go, pledging their love to the ground, and leaving the cares of the past behind.”
Chateau Tumbleweed Winery and Tasting room is located at 1151 AZ-89A, Clarkdale, Arizona 86324.
Visit their website at www.chateautumbleweed.com to learn more or purchase their wines online.
Andi Berlin | This Is Tucson Aug 9, 2016
Proof that Arizona rosé is becoming a thing: When I started the research for this article I figured you could count our state's pink wines on one hand. I called five stores and discovered a dozen different varieties; some dry, some fruity, some traditional and some in a can.
Our state is hot, and that makes for big, fruity wines as the grapes ripen in the sun. Arizona rosé is not the light and mellow stuff you'd sip in France, and it's not California either. To understand what Arizona rosé really is though, you have to drink it. So I spoke to the folks at Tap & Bottle as well as Allen Rodriguez of Plaza Liquors to find out, just where to start ...
The cheap one: Provisioner Arizona Rose (2015)
Bargain hunters already love their red and the white, but this "pink table wine" is a new addition to the Provisioner lineup. We know it's good, because it's made by Camp Verde winemaker Eric Glomski of Page Springs Cellars and the state's most popular winery Arizona Stronghold. Provisioner Rosé is a blend of 56% French Colombard, 25% Malvasia Bianca, 12% Grenache, 4% Mourvedre and 3% Malbec. The bottle says to expect "aromas of honeydew melon, pink grapefruit, Bing cherries and rose water."
The moderate one: Chateau Tumbleweed Rosé (2014)
Look for the drawing of the red-headed girl with tumbleweeds pulled into pigtails. That's Chateau Tumbleweed, a burgeoning Clarkdale winery run by two husband and wife teams. Despite its Northern Arizona digs, Chateau Tumbleweed sources its grapes from Cochise County: The rosé is a blend of 95% Sangiovese from Fort Bowie Vineyards and 5% Graciano from Cimarron. I included it on this list because it was tested an approved by my editor Irene McKisson, if that's proof enough for ya.
The less moderate one: Sand Reckoner Rosé (2014)
This vibrant rosé is the fifth vintage for the Cochise County vineyard Sand Reckoner, which continues to push boundaries by exploring rare varietals. Unlike other blends on this list the wine is 100% Nebbiolo, an exceptionally finicky grape from northwestern Italy. Look for "aromas of red fruits, blood orange and grapefruit. The palate shows a great tension between crisp acidity and minerally structure."
BONUS: Keeling- Schaefer Vineyards Rock Creek Rosé (2014)
Allen at Plaza liked this rosé the best "especially for the money," and said it's one of their most popular sellers. The Cochise County winery Keeling- Schaefer priced this rosé "aggressively" compare to the rest of its selection, but the quality is still there. It's a Provencal-style rose made from 100% Grenache grapes, "clean, dry, crisp" and "full of cherry, watermelon and prickly pear fruit."
Richard Ruelas, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 9:45 p.m. MT Nov. 20, 2015 | Updated 1:58 p.m. MT Nov. 23, 2015
Celebrating the best wines made in Arizona
For the second year in a row, Kent Callaghan of Callaghan Vineyards in Elgin has taken home the Best in Show award in the Arizona Republic Wine Competition.
Last year, he won for a red wine. This year, he wins for a white, Ann's, a 2014 vintage of Arizona-grown Malvasia Bianca.
The wine is named for Ann Buhl, the wife of Al Buhl, an Arizona wine pioneer who passed away in 2013. The grapes are sourced from the Buhl Memorial Vineyard, owned by Maynard James Keenan of Caduceus Cellars.
That grape is becoming one of the state's signature plantings. Another Malvasia Bianca, from Sand-Reckoner Vineyards near Willcox, made it to the final round, as did a white blend from Page Springs Cellars that features the grape.
Callaghan won top honors last year with a 2013 Tannat, another grape varietal that appears uniquely suited for Arizona's wine-growing regions.
The best rose in the contest — which received numerous votes for Best in Show — was from Sand-Reckoner, owned by Rob and Sarah Hammelman.
The best red wine was a 2013 Page Springs Cellars Grenache aged on staves made from Arizona white oak trees. The best dessert wine was a 2014 Arizona Stronghold Vineyards Muscat made with grapes grown at Bonita Springs Vineyard near Willcox. Page Springs Cellars and Arizona Stronghold Vineyards are both owned by Eric Glomski.
Judges met at Tarbell's restaurant on Oct. 26 for the judging. The 20 judges — sommeliers, food and beverage managers, chefs and other wine professionals — were divided into five panels. Each panel tasted a selection of the more than 220 entries.
Each panel was encouraged to discuss and debate the wines they tasted and select two to advance to the final round. Those 10 wines were tasted by all 20 judges. That round determined the top prizes, including Best in Show. The Growers Cup awards are given to wines that are made in Arizona from at least 75 percent Arizona-grown grapes. The Winemakers Medal is awarded to wines made in Arizona with grapes that could be grown anywhere.
Best in Show
Callaghan Vineyards, Ann's, 2014.
Growers Cup Red
First place: Page Springs Cellars, Grenache AZ White Oak, 2013.
Second place: Gallifant Cellars, Rone Ranger, 2014.
Third place: Chateau Tumbleweed, Dr. Ron Bot, 2013.
Growers Cup White
First place: Callaghan Vineyards, Ann's, 2014.
Second place: Sand-Reckoner, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Third place: Page Springs Cellars, 2014. Vino del Barrio Blanca, 2014.
Growers Cup Rose
First place: Sand-Reckoner, Rose, 2014.
Second place: Page Springs Cellars, Counoise Rose House Mountain Vineyard, 2014.
Third place (tie): Chateau Tumbleweed, Rose, 2013. Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Sparkling Pink, 2014.
Growers Cup Dessert
First place: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Vineyard Muscat, 2014.
Second place: Carlson Creek Vineyard, Sweet Adeline Riesling, 2013.
Third place: Coronado Vineyards, Riesling, 2013.
The Top 10
Judges selected these wines for the final round of tasting:
Callaghan Vineyards, Ann's, 2014.
Chateau Tumbleweed, Dr. Ron Bot, 2013.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks, El Campo Blanco, 2013.
Gallifant Cellars, Rone Ranger, 2014.
Pillsbury Wine Co, Diva, 2013.
Page Springs Cellars, Grenache AZ White Oak, 2013.
Page Springs Cellars, Vino del Barrio Blanca, 2014.
Rune, Grenache, 2013.
Sand-Reckoner, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Sand-Reckoner, Rose, 2014.
First place: Burning Tree Cellars, Jespersen Ranch Syrah, Edna Valley, Calif., 2013.
Second place: Caduceus Cellars, Le Cortigiane Oneste, Luna County, N.M., 2013.
Third place: Caduceus Cellars, Velvet Slippers Club: Aglianico, Luna County, N.M., 2013.
First place: Passion Cellars, Malvasia Bianca, N.M., 2014.
Second place: Burning Tree Cellars, Spanish Springs Chardonnay, Edna Valley, Calif., 2012.
Third place: Rune, Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Calif., 2013.
Best Cabernet Sauvignon
First place: Golden Rule Vineyards, Black Diamond, 2013.
Second place: Saeculum Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013.
Third place: Gallifant Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012.
First place (tie): Page Springs Cellars, Grenache AZ White Oak, 2013. Flying Leap Vineyards, Grenache FLV - Block1, 2013. Rune, Grenache, 2013.
Second place: Callaghan Vineyards, Grenache, 2014.
First place: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Merlot Pick 1 Free Run, 2014.
Best Petite Sirah
First place: Pillsbury Wine Co., Petite Sirah, 2013.
Second place: Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Little Block Petite Sirah, 2013.
Third place: Bodega Pierce, Petite Sirah, 2014.
First place: Freitas Vineyard, Bellocchio, 2012.
Second place: Golden Rule Vineyards, Sangiovese, 2013.
Third place: Caduceus Cellars, Kitsuné, 2013.
First place: Rune, Wild Syrah, 2013.
Second place: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Buhl Memorial Vineyard Syrah Clone 383, 2014.
Third place (tie): Rune, Classic Syrah, 2013. Zarpara Vineyard, Syrah, 2013.
Best Rhone Blend
First place: Gallifant Cellars, Rone Ranger, 2014.
Second place: Zarpara Vineyard, Origen, 2013.
Third place: Chateau Tumbleweed, Dr. Ron Bot, 2013.
Best Bordeaux blend
First place: Callaghan Vineyards, Ruth's, 2014.
Second place: Callaghan Vineyards, Caitlin's, 2013.
Third place: Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Rock Slide, 2013.
Best Super Tuscan blend
First place: Bodega Pierce, Emotiva, 2014.
Second place: Caduceus Cellars, Nagual del Marzo, 2013.
Third place: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Mangus,2013.
Best non-traditional red blend
First place: Pillsbury Wine Co, Diva, 2013.
Second place: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Red, 2013.
Third place: Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Prospectors Blend, 2014.
First place: Bodega Pierce, Chardonnay, 2014.
Second place: Gallifant Cellars, Chardonnay, 2013.
Third place: Pillsbury Wine Co., Chardonnay Reserve, 2014.
Best Malvasia Bianca
First place (tie): Callaghan Vineyards, Ann's, 2014. Sand-Reckoner, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Second place (tie): Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Vineyard Malvasia Bianca, 2014. Bodega Pierce, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
First place: Rune, Viognier, 2013.
Second place: Pillsbury Wine Co., Viognier, 2014.
Third place: Zarpara Vineyard, Viogner, 2014.
Best White blend
First place:Dos Cabezas WineWorks, El Campo Blanco, 2013.
Second place: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, DIYA, 2014.
Third place: Merkin Vineyards, Chupacabra Blanca, 2014.
Best Rose varietal
First place: Page Springs Cellars, Counoise Rose House Mountain Vineyard, 2014.
Second place: Caduceus Cellars, Marzo Rose, 2014.
Third place (tie): Callaghan Vineyards, Dry Grenache Rose, 2014. Deep Sky Vineyard, Nebula, 2014.
Best Rose blend
First place:Sand-Reckoner, Rose, 2014.
Second place: Chateau Tumbleweed, Rose, 2013.
Third place: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Sparkling Pink, 2014.
These are the judges and the wines they scored the highest. Some judges awarded multiple wines the same high score.
Cornelius Cover, sommelier, Core Kitchen & Wine Bar, Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain: Rune, Viognier, 2013.
Alex Davis, beverage manager, J&G Steakhouse, The Phoenician: Sand-Reckoner, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Bill Dunphy, owner, Trocadero Wine School: Pillsbury Wine Co., Diva, 2013.
Blaise Faber, Pizzeria Bianco, Town and Country: Rune, Viognier, 2013.
Regan Jasper, sommelier, Fox Restaurant Concepts: Golden Rule Vineyards, Black Diamond, 2013.
Sarah Joubert, supervisor, Province, Westin Phoenix Downtown: Callaghan Vineyards, Grenache, 2014. Page Springs Cellars, Grenache AZ White Oak, 2013.
Kevin Lewis, sommelier, wine director, Kai: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Buhl Memorial Vineyard Syrah Clone 383, 2014.
Patrick Norton, general manager, J&G Steakhouse: Sand-Reckoner, Rose, 2014.
Jenna Rousseau, owner, Central Wine: Chateau Tumbleweed, Arneis, 2014. Bodega Pierce, Chardonnay, 2014. Callaghan Vineyards, Tannat, 2013.
Jay Soloff, co-founder, DeLille Cellars, Wash.: Sand-Reckoner, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Jared Sowinski, director of beverage, The Phoenician: Chateau Tumbleweed, Dr. Ron Bot, 2013. Deep Sky Vineyard, Orbit, 2013. Gallifant Cellars, Rone Ranger, 2014.
Katie Stephens, co-owner, Beckett’s Table and Southern Rail: Page Springs Cellars, Vino del Barrio Blanca. 2014. Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Cabernet Franc, 2014.
T. Scott Stephens, co-owner, Southern Rail and Beckett’s Table: Flying Leap Vineyards, Petit Verdot, 2013. Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Vineyard Muscat, 2014.
Ryan Swanson, chef de cuisine, Kai: Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Cabernet Franc, 2014.
Mark Tarbell, owner and chef, Tarbell’s Restaurant: Sand-Reckoner, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Greg Tresner, sommelier, The Phoenician, Court of Master Sommeliers: Rune, Viognier, 2013.
Alec van Dobben, beverage manager, El Chorro Lodge: Passion Cellars, Malvasia Bianca, New Mexico, 2014. Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Vineyard Muscat, 2014.
Noelle Waite, division manager, Southern Wine & Spirits of Arizona: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, El Campo Blanco, 2013. Gallifant Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012. Pillsbury Wine Co, Diva, 2013.
Michael West, restaurant manager, wine director, Core Kitchen & Wine Bar, Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain: Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Cabernet Franc, 2014.
Cortney Wilson, assistant F&B manager, resident mixologist, District American Kitchen and Wine Bar, Sheraton: Callaghan Vineyards, Ann's, 2014.
Judges awarded gold, silver and bronze medals, either through a table consensus or through an average of individual judges' scores.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Buhl Memorial Vineyard Syrah Clone 383, 2014.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, DIYA, 2014.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Tazi, 2013.
Bodega Pierce, Pandora, 2014.
Callaghan Vineyards, Ann's, 2014.
Callaghan Vineyards, Tannat, 2013.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks, El Campo Blanco, 2013.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Red, 2013.
Flying Leap Vineyards, Grenache FLV-Block 1, 2013.
Freitas Vineyard, Bellocchio, 2012.
Gallifant Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012.
Golden Rule Vineyards, Black Diamond, 2013.
Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Cabernet Franc, 2014.
Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Prospectors Blend, 2014.
Merkin Vineyards, Chupacabra Blanca, 2014.
Page Springs Cellars, Counoise Rose House Mountain Vineyard, 2014.
Page Springs Cellars, Grenache AZ White Oak, 2013.
Page Springs Cellars, Vino del Barrio Blanca, 2014..
Pillsbury Wine Co., Diva, 2013.
Pillsbury Wine Co., Viognier, 2014.
Rune, Classic Syrah, 2013.
Rune, Grenache, 2013.
Rune, Viognier, 2013.
Rune, Wild Syrah, 2013.
Saeculum Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013. Sand-Reckoner, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Sand-Reckoner, Rosé, 2014.
Zarpara Vineyard, Syrah, 2013.
Zarpara Vineyard, Viognier, 2014.
Alcantara Vineyards and Winery, Sauvignon Blanc, 2014.
Alcantara Vineyards and Winery, Syrah, 2012.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Dayden, 2014.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Vineyard Muscat, 2014..
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Pick 4 Free Run, 2014.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Merlot Pick 1 Free Run, 2014.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Vineyard Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Bodega Pierce, Emotiva, 2014.
Bodega Pierce, Chardonnay, 2014.
Bodega Pierce, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Burning Tree Cellars, Jespersen Ranch Syrah, 2013.
Caduceus Cellars, Dos Ladrones, 2014.
Caduceus Cellars, Kitsuné, 2013.
Caduceus Cellars, Le Cortigiane Oneste, 2013.
Caduceus Cellars,Velvet Slippers Club: Viognier, 2014.
Caduceus Cellars, Marzo Rosé, 2014.
Callaghan Vineyards, Grenache, 2014.
Callaghan Vineyards, Grenache, 2013.
Carlson Creek Vineyard, Grenache, 2013.
Carlson Creek Vineyard, Syrah, 2012
Carlson Creek Vineyard, Riesling, 2013.
Chateau Tumbleweed, Rose, 2013.
Chateau Tumbleweed, Arneis, 2014.
Chateau Tumbleweed, Dr. Ron Bot, 2013.
Chateau Tumbleweed, Syrah, 2013.
Coronado Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013.
Coronado Vineyards, Syrah, 2013.
Deep Sky Vineyard, Constellation, 2013.
Deep Sky Vineyard, Aurora, 2014.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Sparkling Pink, 2014.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks, La Montaña, 2012.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Pink, 2014.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Aguileon, 2012.
Flying Leap Vineyards, Petit Verdot, 2013.
Four Eight Wineworks, Four Eight Red, 2013.
Four Tails Vineyard, Big Paw Syrah, 2013.
Freitas Vineyard, Mesa, 2010.
Gallifant Cellars, Rone Ranger, 2014.
Golden Rule Vineyards, Eureka, 2013.
Golden Rule Vineyards, Manzora Red, 2013.
Golden Rule Vineyards, Sangiovese, 2013.
Golden Rule Vineyards, Commonwealth, 2013.
Golden Rule Vineyards, Cobra Loma, 2013.
Golden Rule Vineyards, Lucky Prospector, 2013.
Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Syrah, 2014.
Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Three Sisters Syrah, 2012.
Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Best Friends Viognier, 2013.
Kief-Joshua Vineyards, Magdelena, 2013.
Lawrence Dunham Vineyards, Syrah, 2012.
Page Springs Cellars ̧ Grenache Neutral Oak
Page Springs Vineyard, 2013.
Page Springs Cellars, Syrah Clone 470 Dos Padres Vineyard, 2014.
Passion Cellars, Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Passion Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc, 2014.
Pillsbury Wine Co., WildChild White, 2013.
Pillsbury Wine Co., Petite Sirah, 2013.
Provisioner Wines, Provisioner Red, 2014.
Provisioner Wines, Provisioner White, 2014.
Saeculum Cellars, Viognier, 2014.
Salvatore Vineyards, Viognier, 2014.
Sand-Reckoner, Picpoul Blanc, 2014.
Sand-Reckoner, "7", 2012.
Sierra Bonita Vineyards, Hacienda, 2012.
Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College, Viognier, 2014.
Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College, Grenache, 2014.
Zarpara Vineyard, Origen, 2013.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Bonita Springs Vineyard Gewurztraminer, 2014.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Mangus, 2013.
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Nachise, 2014.
Bodega Pierce, Petite Sirah, 2014.
Burning Tree Cellars, Spanish Springs Chardonnay, 2012
Caduceus Cellars, Velvet Slippers Club: Aglianico, 2013.
Caduceus Cellars, Nagual del Marzo, 2013.
Caduceus Cellars, Velvet Slippers Club: Malvasia Bianca, 2014.
Callaghan Vineyards, Ruth's, 2014.
Callaghan Vineyards, Caitlin's, 2013.
Callaghan Vineyards, Dry Grenache Rose, 2014.
Carlson Creek Vineyard, Rule Of Three, 2012.
Coronado Vineyards, Riesling, 2013.
Coronado Vineyards, Conquistador Red, NV.
Coronado Vineyards, Two Heads Red, NV.
Deep Sky Vineyard, Orbit, 2013.
Deep Sky Vineyard, Nebula, 2014.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks, El Norte, 2012.
Flying Leap Vineyards, Solo, 2014.
Gallifant Cellars, Chardonnay, 2013.
Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013.
Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Legacy Zinfandel, 2014.
Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery, Rock Slide, 2013.
Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Little Block Petite Sirah, 2013.
Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Two Reds Grenache, 2012.
Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Keeling Brothers Shiraz, 2012.
Lawrence Dunham Vineyards, Petite Sirah, 2012.
Lawrence Dunham Vineyards, The Signature Petite Sirah, 2012.
Merkin Vineyards, Chupacabra, 2014.
Page Springs Cellars, Mertis Ap, 2013.
Passion Cellars, Heaven's Half Acre, 2013.
Pillsbury Wine Co., Symphony, 2014.
Pillsbury Wine Co., Chardonnay Reserve, 2014.
Pillsbury Wine Co., Symphony Sweet Lies Reserve, 2014.
Pillsbury Wine Co., Shiraz Guns and Kisses, 2013.
Pillsbury Wine Co., Chardonnay, 2014.
Rune, Chardonnay, 2013.
Salvatore Vineyards, Lacrime di Risate, 2013.
Sierra Bonita Vineyards, Hacienda Blanca, 2012.
Sierra Bonita Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012.
Sonoita Vineyards, Sonora Blanca, NV.
Sonoita Vineyards, Petite Sirah, 2012.
Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College, Syrah, 2014.
Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College, Petite Sirah, 2014.
Su Vino Winery, Chardonnay, NV.
Richard Ruelas, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 3:07 p.m. MT Sept. 11, 2015 | Updated 7:33 a.m. MT Sept. 14, 2015
Acquiring the desire to make wine is much easier than acquiring the equipment to do so.
Kim Koistinen, who had both that desire and a head for numbers, had penciled out exactly how large that gap was.
Four years ago, she and her husband, along with another married couple, shared a dream of starting their own winery. The other three focused on the immediate expenses — grapes, barrels and bottles. But Koistinen took it upon herself to calculate just how much money they would need in the long term to be an independent winery.
The more numbers she crunched, the more daunting it seemed.
“I was planning it out to the point where it’s almost pointing (to) you can’t do it, so give it up,” Koistinen said.
She recalled this while standing behind the bar at the Chateau Tumbleweed tasting room, the independent winery that the four friends had dreamed about.
It was the first hour the tasting room off Highway 89A in Clarkdale had opened. It was before noon, but already one customer had come in. “Part of this doesn’t feel real,” said Kim’s husband, Jeff Hendricks, sitting on a couch waiting for the second customer of the day.
Chateau Tumbleweed was able to go from an idea to a stand-alone business, thanks in part to a wine cooperative designed to lower the financial barriers for ambitious Arizona winemakers.
The Four Eight Wineworks co-op was the brainchild of Maynard James Keenan, who released the first wines from his own Caduceus label in 2004.
Keenan entered the wine business as a second career. His first career was a lucrative one as a Grammy-winning musician. Keenan fronts the bands Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer.
He was just as busy in the Arizona wine industry. Besides the Caduceus label, Keenan co-founded the Arizona Stronghold label with Eric Glomski of Page Springs Cellars. That partnership dissolved in 2014, but the effort let Keenan meet a bunch of talented young professionals who worked for Stronghold and Page Springs.
None of them were successful rock musicians or retired executives living off their nest eggs. They were, by and large, young.
None had the kind of bankroll required to start a winery — where the grapes, barrels and bottles are just part of a costly process that also requires equipment to crush fruit, let it ferment in tanks and fill and label bottles. Equipment varies, but in all it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Keenan knew that each of the winemakers he knew had the desire to strike out on their own. And he also knew the state’s industry would be better off if they did.
“We are far from saturated,” Keenan said, comparing the 94 licensed wineries in Arizona to the thousands in California. Having more quality winemakers around tends to lift up everybody’s game, he said.
“So it’s the idea of nurturing talented guys and just kind of having a small army of people going out into the universe pimping Arizona (wine), to let people know about it.
“The only way we can do that is to help each other.”
A problem solved
Keenan figured he could help by letting the winemakers use the equipment in the building where he was making his Merkin Vineyards wine, especially the expensive pieces like the press, the de-stemmer, the bottling line and holding tanks. He also has a forklift.
A cooperative arrangement seemed the best idea, Keenan said, one in which each winery takes turns on the equipment, but makes their wine themselves.
One problem: Such a rotating use in one location was not specifically allowed under Arizona state law.
That was resolved in the 2014 legislative session. A so-called omnibus bill introduced by the liquor industry resolved several issues, including allowing ceramic beer growlers, allowing wineries to distill spirits and raising production limits on microbreweries. One paragraph allowed what was called “alternating proprietorships.”
Two or more licensed wineries could share a location, under the law, with each having sole responsibility for its own winemaking.
Wines produced at the co-op are poured at the Four Eight Wineworks tasting room, located in a historic bank building in downtown Clarkdale, a town on a historic highway between Cottonwood and Jerome. The tasting room allows each winery to get their bottles to the public, generating both interest and cash flow. Without that outlet, upstart wineries sell through weekend festivals — a hit-or-miss proposition at best.
Keenan opened the tasting room in 2013, before the law was changed. His first clients made wine under Keenan’s Caduceus license. With the change in the law, which went into effect in July 2014, Four Eight now runs as a true cooperative.
It is housed in a former meat processing plant in Camp Verde. Now, growers process grapes instead. Along the walls are spots where tenants can store barrels, as well as yeasts and small-scale equipment. Boundaries are marked with bursts from a spray-paint can.
A nod to that tool is on the bottles of white and red Four Eight Wineworks wines – also poured at the tasting room – and listed as a collaboration of all member wineries.
Current tenants are Saeculum Cellars and Iniquus Cellars. Both labels’ winemakers, Michael Pierce for Saeculum and Tim White for Iniquus, had worked at Arizona Stronghold.
Keenan said there is no time limit on how long winemakers can be part of the co-op. “If we had eight guys making 1,000 cases each or less under that roof forever, great,” he said. But once wineries get to making 2,000 or 3,000 cases a year “it’s probably time to start saving your pennies and open your own place.”
Which is exactly what happened to Chateau Tumbleweed.
Getting a start
Tumbleweed had been the first tenant at Four Eight. Its winemaker is Joe Bechard, who was a winemaker at Page Springs Cellars.
Bechard moved to Arizona from Oregon to work as a reporter at a Sedona newspaper. He was covering a county meeting, and on its agenda was the approval of a winery in Cornville. Bechard said he approached the applicant, Glomski, about doing a story on the winery. That evolved into Bechard quitting journalism and getting hired at Page Springs.
His wife, Kris Pothier, worked part time at the tasting room of Page Springs.
They soon met a couple, Koistinen the number-cruncher and Hendricks, transplanted Californians who also took jobs at Page Springs: Koistinen in the office, Hendricks in the vineyard.
The four friends would often be “hanging out late at night,” Pothier said, “talking about what it would be like to make wine on our own.” That was about when Koistinen, who had made business plans for Arizona Stronghold, started crunching the numbers further.
The four could continue forging ahead, she said, but it would mean continuing their full-time jobs while devoting their off hours to this hobby, in the hopes it would eventually pay off.
“I think it would have taken three or four years like that,” she said. Had the four been able to sustain the effort, maybe they could have shown enough sales for a bank to lend them funds. “Still, you usually need 20 to 30 percent down yourself,” she said. “It would have been a long run.”
Enter Keenan with a plan to do an end-around that long run.
Keenan didn’t want winemakers like Bechard to feel they needed to move to California or another wine-growing area to gain experience and save money.
“We knew that there had to be a way to make this thing work,” Keenan said. “We wanted to have people who already had experience, already had talent and provide them with a space to get their thing going, get off the ground.”
Keenan sent Bechard to the Carlton Wine Studio in Oregon, by all accounts the first wine co-op in the country, to do some research. Eric Hamacher opened the co-op in 2002. Since then, he said, about three dozen wineries have rotated through.
“At its core, the idea of sharing equipment is extremely practical,” Hamacher said.
One lesson Keenan and Bechard grasped was how important the chemistry is among the co-op members. At Four Eight, Keenan said, existing members will get a say on new members.
“If the consensus is that guy’s not fun to work with, we don’t want him in the space,” Keenan said. “It has to be people that get along.”
Keenan said all co-op members need to come with a business plan. They need to show how they intend to keep making wine year over year, and how they plan to sell it. Keenan said he doesn’t want them to solely rely on sales from the tasting room in Clarkdale.
So far, a collegial spirit has existed at Four Eight. At harvest time, members help each other out with the labor of processing grapes. And there have been few battles over scheduling the use of equipment. A general manager runs the winery to referee disputes.
The winemakers pay a fee for use of the equipment — based on how much wine they produce — and make their own business- and winemaking decisions. Each produces a unique product.
Pothier said Chateau Tumbleweed still had expenses after joining the co-op. But they were in the mere thousands, not the hundreds of thousands.
Chateau Tumbleweed saw quick growth. It went from producing 65 cases in 2011, its first year, to a planned 1,200 cases this year. The wine also earned top honors at the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest in the United States.
And it attracted attention from the Petznick family, owners of one of Arizona’s biggest and oldest agriculture
businesses. The Petznicks own the historic D.A. Ranch in Cornville, where it planted a vineyard. The family hired Bechard to make the wines for the D.A. Ranch label. The Petznicks also invested in Chateau Tumbleweed, accelerating the winery’s move toward independence.
This year, Chateau Tumbleweed bought a building along Highway 89A, a few miles from both the Four Eight tasting room and the row of tasting rooms in Old Town Cottonwood. It started moving its barrels out of the Four Eight winery and into its own space. It also had the new equipment delivered — its own tanks, de-stemmer and bottling line. It wouldn’t be needing the co-op’s anymore.
Opening day brought a crush of small details. Pothier printed out small tags to place by the display of T-shirts. Koistinen tried to figure out a price for wines by the glass, an oversight on the menu. Hendricks was on the phone with Google trying to convince them that he was indeed a co-owner and that the winery had a new phone number and address.
Bechard walked through the temperature-controlled barrel room and winery, and the outdoor pad where grapes will be brought in for initial crushing and processing.
“It will get small fast,” Bechard said. “I hope that problem comes.”
Just four years after producing their first bottle, the four are planning for an ambitious future. They might build more cold storage around back. Or an expanded tasting room. They are eyeing the parcel next door. And they are looking for land to plant their own estate vineyard.
Meanwhile, the departure of Chateau Tumbleweed left space to fill at the co-op.
The newest member will be Oddity Wine Collective. It is made up of three friends — Aaron Weiss, Bree Nation and David Baird — who met at the wine program at Yavapai College in Clarkdale. The oldest of them, Weiss, is 30.
But their spray-painted spot will be in a smaller area. Baird said the trio plan on growing the winery slowly. All three plan to keep their day jobs. For Baird, that is as the manager of the Four Eight Wineworks tasting room.
Baird said even though the three will pay a fee to use the winery equipment, he sees Keenan’s co-op as a “philanthropic idea to stimulate this industry.” Oddity plans to start small, releasing 250 cases of wine – one white and three reds – in the fall of 2016, Baird said.
“We want to strike while the iron is hot,” Baird said. “We have the opportunity to not only be on the ground floor of the co-op, but this industry itself is in its infancy. We want to get in on it while we can and make a name for ourselves.”
NATHAN CLAIBORN | JANUARY 30, 2014 | 12:00PM
There's no exact formula for starting your own wine company. You could buy land and plant grapes, but then you'd need a place to make the wine. Or you could have the winemaking facility, but you'd need the fruit. Or you could have none of those things but the burning desire to make wine. The basics are access to well-grown grapes, a facility to process, age, and bottle the wine and the moxy to go out and sell it. Chateau Tumbleweed certainly has those basics covered.
After years of conceptualizing, while at the same time working in the wine business in Arizona, two husband-and-wife pairs finally realized their dream of making their own wine in 2011. Chateau Tumbleweed was born. They don't own any land and they don't have their own facility but they made it happen anyway.
Joe Bechard and his wife, Kris Pothier, ended up here from Eugene, Oregon. Bechard landed a job as a journalist in Sedona and ended up covering the northern Arizona wine business. Writing about it turned into working in it, and now Bechard is not only the winemaker for Chateau Tumbleweed but also the manager of the co-operative winemaking facility Four8 Wineworks. Meanwhile, Porthier handles Shipping and Receiving for Caduceus Cellars, while doubling as chief marketer for Chateau Tumbleweed.
The other husband-and-wife team is Kim Koistinen and Jeff Hendricks. Koistinen handles the finances for Page Spring Cellars. Hendricks is the director of vineyard operations for Page Springs, essentially the head grape grower. They landed here after escaping the tech rat race in San Francisco.
A winemaker, a grape grower, a marketing guru, and a finance wiz, if that's not an all-star team I don't know what is. Couple all that expertise with a well-funded patron of sorts then you have, at least one formula, for a really successful wine label.
That well-funded patron is Maynard James Keenan, founder of Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards as well as the backer of Four8 Wineworks. Four8 is a co- operative winemaking facility in Clarkdale, where young, underfunded aspiring winemakers can make wine for relatively cheap while being surrounded by a supportive community of like-minded folks. Some of those folks include Maynard or Tim White of Iniquus, two of the most well-known winemakers in Arizona. Not bad company if you're trying to learn the tricks of the trade of winemaking. Call it an incubator of talent for Arizona winemaking.
Chateau Tumbleweed began with three barrels of the 2011 whole-cluster fermented merlot while Joe was working for Alcantara Vineyards. Three barrels is basically just under 300 cases. They made 500 cases in 2012, and promptly doubled their production in 2013 to 1000 cases.
They make seven wines, sourced from myriad sites around Arizona and Luna County, New Mexico. The Whole Cluster Merlot comes from right there in Yavapai County. Wild Will E. Cox is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo all from Cochise County as well as a bit of Carignan and Mourvedre from New Mexico. Admiral Star Sailor is a blend New Mexican Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvedre, with a little Cochise County Grenache thrown in. The Bigness is 100 percent single vineyard Tempranillo from the Dragoon Mountain Vineyard in Cochise County. Uncle Tannat is 95 percent Tannat and 5 percent Tempranillo from the same Dragoon Mountain Vineyard. Lil' Frankie is 50/50 Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from Cochise County. And my favorite of theirs is the Arneis which is 90 percent arneis from the aforementioned Dragoon Mountain Vineyard with 10 percent Malvasia Bianca from New Mexico blended in.
Due to the byzantine and archaic distribution laws here in Arizona, Chateau Tumbleweed is currently distributed thanks to Caduceus' license. The entire lineup can be purchased at the Four8 Wineworks tasting room in Clarkdale or at Enchantment in Sedona. Tarbell's is carrying Uncle Tannat and the Arneis in its retail store, as well as pouring some others in its wine bar. For a fun Valentine's Day, head up to the Four8 tasting room for Chateau Tumbleweed Night and taste barrel samples of the 2013 vintage.
Arizona's wine business is growing by leaps and bounds thanks to risk takers like the folks at Chateau Tumbleweed, and well-funded supporters like Maynard James Keenan. But the other reason is because of those of us who relish in being a part of a young, energetic, local industry that is producing darned good juice. Join me in welcoming Chateau Tumbleweed into the mix.
When I'm not writing this column or reading vintage charts to my daughter, you can find me pouring wine at FnB.