The Arizona wine industry is receiving a lot of attention in recent years as the number of vineyard acres are expanding, wine production is increasing, and the quality of Arizona wines are being recognized. There are now over 60 bonded wineries in Arizona up from nine in 2000. However, wine grape acres have not kept up with the demand sending Arizona wineries to purchase grapes from outside of the state. According to recent articles, the California wine grape supply is facing long-term shortages due to myriad of issues facing that industry, including water.
Peggy Fiandaca, President of the Arizona Wine Growers Association, http://www.arizonawine.org/ said “The opportunities of the Arizona wine industry are great, and there is no reason that the wine industry cannot be the next Billion Dollar wine region like Washington and Oregon.” A recent study The Arizona Wine Tourism Industry, June 2011 funded by the Arizona Office of Tourism found that the wine visitor had an estimated $22.7 Million in direct expenditures resulting in a total economic impact of $37.6 Million, supporting 405 total jobs.
“We are pretty excited about this year’s growing season because it appears we have finally skirted the frost season. It’s been a few years since we have had a decent sized harvest; and, if the long term forecasts out there come in even close to predictions – this should be the year,” according to Eric Glomski, co-owner and director of winegrowing of Page Springs Cellars. Eric says that they have planted an additional 16 acres at the Page Springs estate and are managing the ColibriVineyards in the Chiricahua Mountains in Southeastern Arizona. They are focusing on Rhone red and white varietals but have some Pinot Noir in a cool site and planted Vermentino, Teraldage, and Counoise.
In Arizona’s oldest wine region, the anticipation for a good growing season is also high. Kent Callaghan, winemaker of Callaghan Vineyards in Sonoita, had their first vintage in 1991. Today Callaghan’s estate winery is looking forward to a really good year in the vineyard. According to Kent, “We have planted new varieties that will produce small crops so we can get a feel for them here (Fiano, Vermentino, Petit Manseng, Malbec, Carmenere, and TourigaNacional). We also planted about two acres of whites (Petit Manseng, Malvasi Bianca, and Roussanne).” Kent anticipates harvesting a sizable crop of Graciano from their 3.25 acres planted. “It looks like a good, fun year so far,” he stated.
Southeastern Arizona is the third major wine grape growing region and one of the fastest in the amount of acres being planted. “After two spring frost years in a row, we had very minimal damage from the only frost event in mid-April,” according Curt Dunham, owner/winemaker of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards. “So far, we have a very encouraging amount of buds in the entire vineyard. Our Viognier, which is typically considered a light producer, is absolutely loaded with buds. If we get a good fruit set and normal weather, it should be a very good year in terms of volume.”
“The Arizona wine industry is excited about the start of the 2012 growing season. The increase in vineyard acreage and the fantastic wines being produced will support our efforts to put Arizona on the map as a quality winemaking and grape growing region,” said Peggy Fiandaca, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.