August 23, 2017

It All Starts Over a Glass of Wine

A common thread among many professionals in the wine industry is that their passion began over a particular glass of wine. I still remember the first wine that truly captured my attention. It was the 1997 Elderton Shiraz that I tasted at the Barossa winery during the local culinary festival (a bi-annual event that is now sadly defunct). The wine distinctively smelled like someone had cracked fresh black pepper into my glass. I’ve been a fan of that particular winery ever since. My little story segues into the topic for this month. I return to the Arizona wine roads and…

Spring Pilgrimage

Life tends to get so hectic that one often does not have the chance to slow down and enjoy the simple things. Fortunately, I was able to take some time this month and go exploring with a trip to the San Francisco Bay including a few jaunts up to Napa Valley. I’ve not been to Napa wine country in some time, so it was nice to visit a few colleagues, relax with the scenic views and beautiful spring weather, and of course enjoy a few glasses of excellent wine along with a bevy of foodie’s delights. For this month’s topic,…

Here’s to You . . .

In April, Excentric staff members take a look at the problem of binge drinking. It is widely accepted among medical professionals that a glass of red wine each night can actually be good for the body. This woman seems to have found a way to follow her doctor’s recommendation and still reach a place of comfort she has become accustomed to. Glass blowers everywhere are hurrying to satisfy the rapidly growing demand.   Related posts: It All Starts Over a Glass of Wine Blind and in the Dark Grapes and the Grill . . . by Joel Mann, Staff Wine…

Two Heads are Better with Wine

The current growth in the Arizona wine scene can be traced back to a handful of pioneers. The original pioneer arguably being Gordon Dutt who recognized the potential that Sonoita and Elgin held for vineyards in the late 1970s. A small group sprang up during the early- to-mid 1990s to join him, and this core group was the true forefront of the Arizona wine industry as it stands today. I return to the Arizona wine roads to introduce you to one of those pioneering labels and tell the story of its current owner and winemaker. The label is Dos Cabezas…

Follow the Purple Stained Trail

I’m a fairly seasoned world traveler. One place I’ve wandered extensively is Australia. Experienced travelers often refer to the land down under as OZ, which allows me to segue to the Arizona wine roads and bring you the tale of another small Arizona family winery. I make the literary and travel reference because my subject this month has a strong Australian connection. It’s Kief-Joshua Vineyards and their winemaker Kief Manning, who is one of the few people in the state of Arizona to have an advanced degree in viticulture and enology. Kief-Joshua Vineyards, like most Arizona wineries, is definitely a…

Trailblazing Arizona Wines

Most of my focus on Arizona wineries has revolved around the small group of people at the forefront of the Northern Arizona wine scene. This is a Sedona based publication after all. My goal, though, is to promote Arizona wine in general, since the state as a whole is going through a period of growth, and shows real promise in joining a handful of other states as prominent American wine producers beyond California and the West coast. All industries have their pioneers, and there are a few names in Arizona that carry recognition as the trailblazers who not only initiated…

Driving Arizona Wines

The Arizona wine scene is still in its infancy really. Most of the people involved in the business here run a mom & pop operation, and on a small scale are simply following a passion that took hold of them. While even the largest of Arizona wineries is considered small versus the size of major producers in California, there are a few driving forces that are laying the foundations for premium wine production in the state. Some are becoming modestly sized wine businesses, proving that success can be achieved in the Arizona wine market. I’d like to introduce you to what…

Arizona and Vine

My writings on the Arizona wine scene have focused on the wineries in the northern reaches of the state so far. This is the Sedona edition after all, and they’re just down the road. But, I would be remiss in promoting Arizona wines if I didn’t branch out and discuss the other regions of the state involved in the grape business. I’d like to introduce to you to a gentleman that is the perfect bridge to bring together every region of the Arizona wine industry, from the vineyards down south, to the wineries up north, and the retail shops in between. His…

Big Wines Need a Big Dog

I’m going to delve back into the developing local wine scene and introduce you to another of Northern Arizona’s young wineries. The locale in question is known for making big red wines from big red Zinfandel grapes. That, and a really big dog. Javelina Leap Vineyards and Winery  is located at 1565 Page Springs Road just south of Sedona on the outskirts of the town of Cornville, just across the road from the fish hatchery. It’s the labor of passion for owner/winemaker Rod Snapp. Of course, he’ll give all the credit for any success to his partner and better half,…

Rhône, Rhône on the Range

When professionals in the wine industry discuss wine styles and the character of a given wine, they often refer back to the classic regions of the old world, since those styles define many of the classic wine grape varieties. Most new regions look to classic wine areas when regarding what soil types and climate patterns their vineyard sites match, and how that pairs with vineyard practices from similar established regions. Growers often make key decisions such as which grapes to plant based off the similarity of their sites to established regions in Europe. Many eventually establish their own signature styles…

Rock You Like a Cabernet

Any new developing wine region needs a handful of stalwarts that are the foundation upon which success is built. Even Napa Valley was a backwater at one time until names like Robert Mondavi led the way. Northern Arizona has a handful of these stewards, and the one I’m going to tell you about is certainly not only a driving force in quality, but is the name recognition that can bring the customers, critics, related enterprises, and other trappings that lead to a successful local wine industry. He’s the rock star (literally) turned winemaker, Maynard James Keenan, the owner and proprietor of…

Grapes and the Grill . . . by Joel Mann, Staff Wine Tasting Guy

Arizona has one definite advantage over many places – the ability to grill outdoors for most of the year. Now that the summer heat is finally starting to die away, it’s becoming prime grilling season too. The typical Americana fare that makes it way over a bed of coals does not usually conjure up images of fine wine however. While ice cold beer is often a great accompaniment to a juicy piece of meat cooked over fire, don’t underestimate the potential for a nice glass of vino to go with your grilled meat and seafood. This month, I’ll delve into…