Arizona wine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wine region
Official nameState of Arizona
TypeU.S. state
Year established1912
Years of wine industryLate 18th century to present
CountryUnited States
Sub-regionsSonoita AVA, Willcox AVA, Verde Valley AVA
Total area113,998 square miles (295,253 km2)
Grapes producedCabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Concord, Counoise, Gewürztraminer, Graciano, Grenache, Malvasia, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Muscat Canelli, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Riesling, Sangiovese, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah, Viognier, Zinfandel[1]
No. of wineriesOver 100

Arizona wine refers to wine made from grapes grown in the U.S. state of Arizona. There are three major regions of vineyards and wineries in Arizona:[2]

Most vineyards in Arizona are located in the southeastern portion of the state south and east of Tucson, which is also the location of two of Arizona's designated AVA's (American Viticultural Area), the Sonoita AVA (established in 1985) and the Willcox AVA (established in 2016).[3] Arizona's third designated AVA, the Verde Valley AVA (established in 2021) is located in central Arizona.[4] Arizona has enjoyed recent success with wine made from the grape varieties native to Italy and the Rhône valley of southern France.[1]

It is not clear when viticulture and winemaking first began in Arizona.  In 1703, the famous Jesuit missionary and explorer Eusebio Francisco Kino reported growing grapes and making wine for Mass at his mission of Dolores in nearby Sonora.[5]  However historic records suggest there was very little winemaking in Arizona itself during the Spanish period since many of the missions and settlements were not in good winegrowing locations.[6]

During the territorial period, farmers in the Salt River Valley around Phoenix began making wine in the mid-1870s and a small winemaking industry eventually emerged in nearby Mesa during the 1880s.  In northern Arizona, Henry Schuerman established a farm and orchard along Oak Creek in the Verde Valley and later planted a large vineyard to make wine for the nearby mining camp of Jerome. In the fall of 1914, Arizonans voted to go dry and banned the sale and consumption of alcohol, effectively ending Arizona's budding wine industry.[6]    

Starting in the mid-1970s, Dr. Gordon Dutt, a soil scientist at the University of Arizona, conducted experiments that demonstrated that parts of Arizona could produce quality wine grapes.[7] Dutt went on to found Vina Sonoita Vineyards – the first modern commercial wine vineyard in Arizona.  In 1980, Navy veteran Robert Webb opened the R. W. Webb Winery in Tucson and later established a vineyard south of Willcox.  Other pioneering Arizona winemakers during the 1980s and 1990s included William Staltari, Tino Ocheltree, Al Buhl, and Kent Callaghan.[6]

There now are over 110 wineries, vineyards and cellars[8] throughout Arizona, including in the cities of Phoenix and Tucson.[9]

The wineries, vineyards and cellars are supported by three state and regional organizations: the Arizona Wine Growers Association, a non-profit NGO representing, educating and promoting the state's wine industry, Willcox Wine Country [1], a non-profit dedicated to increasing viability of wineries and vineyards in the southeast portion of Arizona, and by the Arizona Vignerons Alliance(AZVA), a non-profit organization collecting data on all Arizona wine-growing regions, ensuring authenticity of Arizona wine and working to promote Arizona wine as recognized, respected and sought-after in Arizona, the U.S., and globally.[10] AWGA supports the wine industry through promotional events, state awards to the best wines in Arizona and industry lobbying efforts at the local, state and national level. AZVA establishes parameters for growing grapes and producing wines in Arizona; verifies, certifies and promotes 100% Arizona wine; collects, evaluates and shares Arizona viniculture data; holds the annual AZVA Symposium and Wine tasting and participates in existing regional and international events to raise national and global awareness of Arizona wine; and promotes truth in labeling by giving the consumer and wine professional accurate information based on a data-driven and fact-based approach to wine labeling.

The Southwest Wine Center, established in 2009, is part of Yavapai College's Verde Valley Campus.[11][12] SWC provides education and training for the AZ wine industry through Yavapai College's Viticulture and Enology Program. Students at YC can earn an AA in Viticulture and Enology or a certificate in Viticulture or Enology.[13]

Primer Paso from Caduceus Cellars in Verde Valley

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Arizona: Appellation Profile". Appellation America. 2007. Archived from the original on August 14, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2007.
  2. ^ "Arizona Wine Regions". Arizona Wine Growers Association. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  3. ^ "Willcox AVA". The University of Arizona. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  4. ^ Release, Press (November 10, 2021). "Verde Valley Declared an American Viticultural Area (AVA)". Wine Industry Advisor. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  5. ^ Burrus, Ernest L., ed. (1961). Kino's Plan for the Development of Pimeria Alta, Arizona and Upper California: A Report to the Mexican Viceroy (First ed.). Tucson: Arizona Pioneers' Historical Society. pp. 27–28. ASIN B002JMNYR8.
  6. ^ a b c Berg, Erik (Autumn 2018). "Equal Age for Age: The Growth, Death, and Rebirth of an Arizona Wine Industry, 1700–2000". The Journal of Arizona History. Project MUSE. 59: 200–244.
  7. ^ Dutt, Gordon; Mielke, Eugene; Hughes, Sam; Wolfe, Wade (1980). Grape and Wine Production in the Four Corners Region. Technical Bulletin 239. Tucson, Arizona: College of Agriculture, University of Arizona.
  8. ^ Gartin, John (2016). "Wineries, Vineyards and Cellars of Arizona". Unpublished Research.
  9. ^ "Arizona Visitor's Guide". Arizona Wine Growers Association. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  10. ^ "Our Mission". Arizona Wine Growers Association. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  11. ^ "Southwest Wine Center". Yavapai College. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  12. ^ Romano, Aaron (October 30, 2012). "Arizona Wine Goes to School". Wine Spectator.
  13. ^ Walker, Lindsay (April 29, 2020). "Yavapai College Launches Associates Degree in Enology - Science of Wine". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved December 11, 2016.

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