November 28, 2023

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, Cynthia Reed, who plays a large role in the business side of their wine venture.

I met Rod a couple years ago just as his winery was under construction. He’s an affable guy with an interesting life story that’s involved being a fireman, publisher, landscaper, developer, and chef amongst others. He’s been an Arizona resident for over three decades, and has solid roots in the local community. The lure of the vineyards ensnared him when he worked in the culinary world, and that set about his dream to build his own winery.

He began by learning the ropes working for other Arizona wineries; purchased a plot of land everyone called him crazy for, and began development of what is now the realization of a dream. Javelina Leap joyfully opened for business as a bonded winery in November, 2006.

Javelina Leap currently produces red wines only, with the focus being Zinfandel. Rod in fact is one of those Zinfandel fiends, complete with ZAP membership, and routine self depreciation that asks the rhetorical question, “Why’d I have to fall in love with Zinfandel of all grapes?” His property is planted with about 5 acres of Zinfandel vines. He also sources fruit from respected vineyards in the Paso Robles region of California, which is well known for top Zinfandels, and is the source for his current selection of wines.

In addition to Zinfandel, Javelina Leap also has Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon to offer customers. I haven’t been to the winery since the 2006 vintage was bottled, but I can attest to the fact that everything was tasting fantastic in the barrels just beforehand. The Zins were jammy and spicy, just like Rod likes them. The Paso Robles Merlot was dense, with plenty of dark fruit and spice flavors. The Cabs were still a bit young and will get more time in the barrel, but they had very intense cassis and chocolate flavors.

Next time you decide to come to the Sedona area, Javelina Leap is definitely worth a stop. Visits are by appointment only, and all the details can be gathered from their website at The winery has a charming founder’s room that is a cross between an old west saloon, an English pub, and a Hollywood memorabilia shop, all courtesy of Mrs. Javelina Leap, Cynthia Reed.

Of course, any conversation about this property would not be complete without mentioning the largest member of the Javelina Leap crew – Vineyard. He’s the Old English Mastiff “child” of Rod and Cynthia, and measures in at around 6’5” on his hind paws, and a whopping 220 lbs. last I heard. He’s a big loveable beast that will greet you when you arrive, probably slobber all over you, and be your best friend if you give him a treat and belly rub.

Come visit Rod and the other winemakers in the little wine valley just south of Sedona. And as always, remember to tip the bartender and designate a driver.


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