The Verde Valley Wine Trail

Several boutique wineries have opened in the Verde Valley in Arizona, creating a new wine culture for both locals and visitors.

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PHOENIX, Arizona Jul 21, 2015/ Troy Media/ – The Verde Valley, located about 100 miles north of Phoenix, is 35-miles long and is comprised of the towns of Cottonwood, Jerome, Sedona, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, and Cornville. Within the past five to 10 years several boutique wineries have opened in the area, creating a new wine culture for locals and visitors alike.

Arizona, once considered too hot and dry for grape vines, actually possesses the soil, exposure and climate needed to become a great wine making state. With elevations of 4,000 feet above sea level, the area has been compared to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, where grapes were first domesticated and the first wine was made. Arizona’s hot days are good for sugar production and the cool nights stress the grapes and are good for acid retention.

‘Our wines are wonderful. They do represent quality, they do express terroir (the proper environmental conditions), and they speak about our state in a positive way,’ says Paula Woolsey, CSW Wine Educator and National Sales Manager for Arizona Stronghold & Caduceus Cellars. ‘Although we have only just begun on our journey to national recognition, we are already enjoying great praise.’

Wine enthusiasts can experience exquisite wines while visiting four wineries and seven tasting rooms on The Verde Valley Wine Trail.

Alcantara Vineyard (Cottonwood) is the largest of the vineyards on the Verde Wine Trail and is a dream venture created by Barbara Predmore, owner and proprietor. ‘Alcantara, which means ‘the bridge,’ is all about slowing down and appreciating both the land and the wine,’ Predmore stresses. The 87-acre winery is located at the confluence of the Verde River and Oak Creek and produces 12 different varietals.

The Tuscan farmhouse, which serves as a tasting room, has a warm and inviting atmosphere that mirrors Predmore’s philosophy. An outside deck is surrounded by an abundance of wildlife including deer, elk, beaver, and a pair of bald eagles. In the middle of the vineyard is a chapel used for weddings, festivals, and other events. Says Predmore: ‘My dream is to add a Bed & Breakfast, and eventually a whole Tuscan Village built around the winery.’ (Founded 2004; 7500 E. Alcantara Way, Cottonwood, 928.649.8463).

Page Springs Winery is a four-acre estate vineyard owned and operated by Eric Glomski, who says his goal is to create delicious wines that express the character of the landscape. Grapes planted at Page Springs include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Grenache and Cabernet Pfeffer. Glomski is a true visionary who is seeking to bring Arizona wines onto the national stage.

Visitors to Page Spring Winery will find it a relaxing atmosphere with comfy sofas inside or umbrella-covered tables on the patio overlooking the vineyard and Oak Creek. Offerings include not only wine but cheese or bistro plates. After tasting, guests may even choose to further unwind with a massage in a private tent overlooking the vineyard. (Founded 2004; 1500 N. Page Springs Road, Cornville, 928.639.3004.)

Oak Creek Winery, located near beautiful Sedona on gentle slopes with a river nearby,grows 4,000 plants on just over 10 acres. Syrah and Merlot are grown in the higher elevations, with Zinfandel and Chardonnay in the lower portion. The winery also offers a large selection of wine-related merchandise, including a gourmet selection of cheeses, salami and other snacks. (Founded 2002; 1555 N. Page Springs Road, Cornville, 928.649.0290.)

Javelina Leap Winery is a 10-acre estate located just 10 miles outside of Sedona on the slopes of an ancient volcano. The property was part of the historic ranches in the valley of Page Springs, known for its abundance of natural springs. Owners and winemakers Rod and Cynthia Snapp make their wine one ton at a time, giving them ultimate quality control. The winery is known for its Zinfandel and Barbera grapes and deep full-bodied reds that it sells mostly to locals. Guest will enjoy the quaint tasting room that is fashioned after a turn-of-the-century western saloon. The winery also offers free barrel room tours on Saturday. (Founded 2005; 1565 Page Springs Road, Cornville, 928.649.2681.)

Tasting Rooms on the Verde Valley Wine Trail

Arizona Stronghold Tasting Room (Cottonwood)isthe result of a joint venture between Maynard Keenan of the band, TOOL, and Eric Glomski, owner of Page Springs Cellars. Their philosophy is all about place, people, quality and value. Keenan says the whole project has really been about reconnecting with the earth, the community and each other.

Foremost, however, they believe good wine doesn’t have to be expensive or pretentious. They also believe that the soils and the climate at the vineyard stand up to the finest in the world. With 60 acres producing vines, they are currently the largest producing vineyard in the state. Guests will enjoy their comfortable tasting room, complete with Wi-Fi!

Pillsbury Wine Company (Cottonwood) is owned by New Zealand film director, producer and writer Sam Pillsbury. Pillsbury says he fell in love with wine – Chateauneuf du Pape in particular – when he travelled to Europe on film business in the 1970s and 80s. From that point on, he dreamed of owning his own vineyard. Pillsbury has been producing Arizona wines since 2000 with a philosophy of creating a range of wines, and bringing out the best flavours of the grape.

Influenced by his visits to Europe, Pillsbury also believes that ‘wine should be an everyday part of our lives, not just something explosive for a special occasion.’ A future dream includes plans to open up Pillsbury Vineyard Estates, a sort of wine country village where one can live amongst the vines.

At the Pillsbury Wine Company tasting room, guests will definitely be entertained while sipping wine with funky names like ‘One Night Stand’ and ‘Wild Child Red.’ The winery also offers outstanding homemade chocolates by Chocofin Chocolatier for wine pairing.

Wine Cellar Tasting Room (Cottonwood) owned by Sandra and Billy Baker, features a long, narrow outdoor patio with tables, or comfortable inside seating at the bar of at small intimate tables or sofas. The Cellar features Dionysian Cellars Wines whose grapes are all from California, although the wine is made in Arizona. They do offer one wine, a Barbera, whose grapes are from the Verde Valley.

Burning Tree Cellars (Cottonwood) the newest tasting room in Cottonwood, opened in August 2012. It offers boutique wines with live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Caduceus Cellars (Jerome) was born out of the passion and vision of lead singer Maynard Keenan (of TOOL). Keenan says he seeks to make his wine like his music: ‘thick, dense, rich, complex, engaging, emotional, and spiritual.’

Jerome Winery (Jerome) is built on the side of Cleopatra Hill between Prescott and Sedona, and offers over 30 handcrafted and individually distinct wines. Their goal is to create wines that are enjoyable for the novice and connoisseur alike.

Bitter Creek Winery (Jerome) invites visitors to experience wine tasting in an avant-garde gallery showcasing some of the area’s finest local artwork.

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