Three Reasons Arizona Wine is so Special
Certainly, there are more than three reasons that Arizona wine is so special. It might be a bias, but it is simple to say Arizona wines are special because they are made in Arizona! Bias or not, Arizona wine is amazing.
The Arizona viticulture wine grape harvest usually reaches its peak in September. If there was a delay of monsoon rain, an extended hot summer, or perhaps some rough weather, vineyards may produce a smaller harvest. However, one positive outcome could be an extraordinary vintage. According to wine grape farmers, when grapes are stressed, they can produce some extraordinary wines.
Specifically, in grape farming in general, according to CEO Mark Beres of Flying Leap Vineyards and Distillery, when vines are stressed, the fruit they produce can have enhanced concentrated flavors and aromas.
“This underscores the ability of Arizona winemakers to produce high-quality wines from Arizona-grown fruit,” he said.
The berries produced in Arizona’s unforgiving desert climate, when vinified and properly aged, can result in world-class vintages that are unique, dense in flavor and age worthy. Beres and other winemakers emphasize some of these unique growing conditions are not exclusive to Arizona. Our climate, however, qualifies the state for being one of the wine-growing regions wine aficionados can and should celebrate.
So, what are some specific elements that allow Arizona winemakers to achieve these kinds of vintages. Beres suggest three possible reasons.
- A little stress never hurt any grape. Again, a degree of hardship means Arizona wine grapes have the capability of producing some great wine. “Great wine generally comes from grape vines that have struggled,” says Beres.
- Arizona’s wine country enjoys favorable temperature extremes, referred to as diurnal shift. In other words, the temperature range within a 24-hour period can have wide variations, conditions which enhance the balance between sugar and acidity in wine grapes.
- Especially in southern Arizona, grapes can enjoy a long growing season. Arizona’s southern latitude affords wine growers an extended growing season. This means Arizona wine grapes benefit from an extended hang time, which results in grapes with more nuanced flavor, color density and aroma. It also tends to produce wine with higher alcohol and bolder flavors.
100 Years with Arizona Wine and Beer
Arizona Farm Bureau partnered with Yavapai Farm Bureau’s Michael Pierce and the students at the Southwest Wine Center of Yavapai College, where Pierce also serves as director, to create a wine specifically for Arizona Farm Bureau’s 100 years.
This 2019 vintage is a dry red blend of 6 red wine grapes showcasing a burst of dried black cherry notes, medium tannins and a delicious lingering finish. Pierce suggests one pair Centennial Red with “a beautifully marbled steak and Maytag blue cheese.”
Students at the Southwest Wine Center of Yavapai College have grown, produced, and bottled this red wine to commemorate 100 years of the Arizona Farmer Bureau. The red blend is from Tempranillo, Refosco, Carignan, Sangiovese, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon.
A toast from Pierce, “Cheers to the history and future of Arizona agriculture!”
To purchase the Centennial Red, you’ll find it at the beautiful Tasting Room of the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College.
Arizona Farm Bureau partnered with Old Ellsworth Brewing Company for this special Centennial beer, called Cien.
Old Ellsworth Brewing Company owner Brian explaines that “Cien has all Arizona grains in it. We have grain from Sonagwa malt in Camp Verde and Queen Creek from Grain R&D. I would describe the beer as a California common style. We call it an Arizona steam beer. It’s a really old-style beer that’s really easy to drink. Super malt-forward, super flavorful and it has that nice coppery Arizona color.”
You can purchase Cien beer at Old Ellsworth Brewing Company. You can also find the beer at select Wine & More stores around the valley.
“We live and work by the cycle of the seasons in a loop of prepare, plant, steward and harvest,” said Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse. “We have good years and bad. While we are subject to both factors within and out of our control we know, Agriculture is essential to Arizona’s prosperity and Arizona Farm Bureau is the Voice of Agriculture. We empower members through grassroots advocacy, communication, and education and will continue this work for the next 100 years.”
Author: Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Outreach Director
Outdoor Living | #ArizonaWine
Move Over California! Arizona grown grapes & grains for wine and beer has become a big deal! We talk Emil Molin of Cove Mesa Vineyards in Cottonwood, Arizona joined by Julie Murphree of The Arizona Farm Bureau. How a course in winemaking led to opening Cove Mesa. Brian McKean of Old Ellsworth Brewing talks about brewing The Arizona Farm Bureau’s Centennial beer ‘Cien’. And what it takes to produce excellent wine and beer in Arizona!
Arizona Farm Bureau’s Julie Murphree is joined by Mark Beres of Flying Leap Vineyards And Distillery. Started by 3 Air Force Veterans, Flying Leap is known for their ultra premium wines grown, produced and bottled in Arizona. Mark talks about the history, variety of grapes they grow, misconceptions about wine and how the wine industry has flourished in a short period of time.