Arizona’s Best Wine Regions (and Where to Sip)

Rocky soil, intensely flavoured fruit and rich wines make Verde Valley and Willcox worth visiting.
 

Flying Leap Vineyards

Verde Valley

The lush Verde Valley in north-central Arizona comprises Sedona and the neighbouring towns of Cottonwood, Jerome, Clarkdale, Camp Verde and Cornville. This mountain valley, just two hours from Phoenix, has only recently been discovered by out-of-state visitors, but it’s been on the radar of in-the-know wine aficionados for years. Set up camp in Cottonwood, the heart of Arizona’s wine country. Then traverse the red-rock countryside on the Verde Valley Wine Trail and discover the spicy, full-bodied Zinfandels and Syrahs, along with other Rhône varietals coming out of nearby wineries such as Page Springs Cellars in Cornville and Arizona Stronghold Vineyards in historic Old Town Cottonwood.

Page Springs Cellars, photo by Grace Stufkosky

Willcox

The lesser-known Willcox wine region is no less-respected, producing 74 per cent of Arizona’s grape harvest and winning coveted American Viticultural Area (AVA) status just last year—it’s now recognized as a unique and distinctive wine-growing region. An easy day trip from Tucson, top tasting rooms include Carlson Creek Vineyard, known for its crisp Chenin Blancs, and Coronado Vineyards, with its award-winning Riesling. Or visit boutique Flying Leap Vineyards, where you can enjoy a tasting while standing on the century-old floor of what was once the Headquarters Saloon—it was here in 1900 that Warren Earp, the youngest of the infamous Earp gun fighting clan, met his untimely demise.

Local tip: “Pick apples, peaches and pumpkins at Apple Annie’s Produce & Pumpkins in Willcox, then hike to the Chiricahua National Monument.” —Mark Beres, president and CEO, Flying Leap Vineyards

Getting there: WestJet flies to Phoenix once a day from Calgary, and to Mesa three times a week from Calgary and Edmonton starting October 22, 2017.

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