If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may remember this post about our visit to Page Springs Winery. We loved our trip there, and we really love the direction that the Arizona wine industry is headed, so this weekend we decided to venture down to Wilcox, AZ.
Willcox is the largest producer of grapes in Arizona, and they are working at becoming a designated AVA.
Neither Matt or I had ever been that far south, and it was a drive (3.5 hours), but it was definitely worth it!
On your way into Willcox, the first winery that you will run into is Golden Rule Vineyards, a wonderful property owned by Jim an Ruth Graham. Jim has been a farmer his whole life, and not only does he do a great job with grapes, they make some wonderful pistachios as well! They are spactacular people and it was a pleasure getting to know them and taste their wines.
I especially like their take on the golden rule – “pour for others as you would pour for yourself.”
After this stop, we took a 30 minute drive into downtown Willcox, where there are several tasting rooms within walking distance.
First, we visited Flying Leap which is owned by retired Air Force pilots, hence the name. They are making some very interesting wines, and I am curious to see how they evolve over the next few years. Their vineyards are actually in Elgin, AZ, but they have quite a few choices at their Willcox tasting room as well.
Next on the list was the Keeling Schaefer tasting room. The wines here are also very good. They have a bold fruit forward approach, and tend to be high in alcohol. The style is somewhat unique for Arizona wines, which are often compared to the Rhone Valley.
The Keeling Schaefer tasting room is an amazing building! I didn’t get very good pictures of it, but it is definitely worth checking out. It used to be a bank in the 1800s, and has a very interesting ceiling, original floors and the original door!
Another tasting room open in downtown is Aridus, which has a state-of the-art custom crush facility in Willcox. Several of the vineyards in the area are using Aridus to make and bottle their wines. Unfortunately, they were not open yesterday, but we are excited to check them out in the future!
Our last stop of the day was Pillsbury Wine Company, owned by Sam Pillsbury. Sam was not at the vineyard yesterday, but Bonnie Lewis was. Bonnie is a very knowledgeable wine blogger for the Tucson Citizen – Pour Me Some Grapes. She is a wonderful advocate of the Arizona wine industry and we had a delightful conversation with her over a tasting.
There are several other vineyards and tasting rooms in Willcox which we would LOVE to visit, but we just didn’t have enough time in one day. It was a really great experience though, and we will definitely be going back. We’d love to take some people with us next time as well, so let me know if you are interested!
… and of course the day would not have been complete without a beautiful Arizona Sunset.