arizona wine maker

Arizona Hops & Vines interview

Arizona Hops & Vines is the name of one of Arizona’s newest wineries. I happened to meet the principals at the 2012 Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Festival on the Farm at South Mountain.
Here’s a quick interview

Video interview with Arizona wine maker Tim White

I got a chance to sit down with Arizona wine maker Tim White at this years Festival on the Farm.  Tim is the director of wine making at Arizona Stronghold Vineyards.  Arizona Stronghold took home multiple awards from this year’s Arizona Wine Grower’s Association competition including:

Arizona Grower’s Cup, Gold for red.  And a clean sweep in the white category, winning Gold, Silver and Bronze!

Video interview:

Arizona Stronghold website

Blue Tooth Wine Society celebrates with JAW cellars

Arizona wine broker

The lineup!

The “Blue Tooth Wine Society” celebrated the holiday season this past Saturday night at the home of Jim Wiskerchen.  Jim is the founder of the Blue Tooth Wine Society, a group of people who share a common interest in learning about wine in a relaxed and friendly environment.  The BTWS currently has 275 members.

Arizona wine maker

Jim Wiskerchen

Jim Wiskerchen is also a wine broker for many Arizona wineries.  Currently Jim sells just under 10,000 cases of wine a year for his winery partners, and he plans to double that in 2012.

But wait, theres more!  Jim is also a winemaker!  Jim’s first vintage was released just a few months ago: JAW Cellars “Meritaz”  a play on the Meritage name, containing a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, aged 24 months in New French oak

Jim plans on increasing production in 2012 to over 175 cases.  He also will be releasing more varietals.  His plans include a Malbec, a dry Zinfandel, a Red Bordeaux blend and a white Bordeaux blend and a GSM.  He also is planning a Torrontes, a wine which has done quite well in Argentina.

Rare Jem: '95 Quilceda Creek

The holiday party was attended by a variety of guests, the more die hard fans of the Blue Tooth Wine Society!  Each brought a wine to share.  The variety was incredible.  From The Duro, Portugal to Campo de Borja, Spain.  From Sonoma, Napa and Lodi to Washington State and Arizona.

Some of the rare gems we enjoyed included a 1995 Quilceda Creek Cabernet and a 2005 Caduceus Cellars “Nagual Del

Rare Jem: '05 Caduceus Sensei

Sensei” and a Cameron Hughes Lot 200

Follow Jim Wiskerchen on Twitter

Join the Blue Tooth Wine Society here at Meetup.com

2 Quick Video Interviews | Cellar Dwellers | Callaghan Vineyards

Flip cam interviews from the 3rd annual Arizona Wine Growers Association Festival on the Farm

Cellar Dwellers:

Callaghan Vineyards:

 

For more pictures visit facebook.com/weeklywinejournal

Arizona Wine Grower’s Association | 2011 awards banquet

November 21, 2010 Phoenix, Arizona

Quiessence Restaurant

2011 Arizona Wine Growers awards banquet at Quiessence

This past weekend the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association celebrated its 3rd annual awards banquet and festival.

The awards banquet was held at the AAA Four Diamond award winning Quiessence restaurant.  The cozy little farm house is nestled in the back end of the 10 acre urban Farm at South Mountain.  Executive Chef and owner Gregory La Prad created a stunning 5 course meal paired with the Gold medal winning wine in each category.  Guests paid $125 each to dine with the Arizona Republic Wine Competition winners.  The intimate evening was the culmination of 12 months of difficult work for the wine growers and makers, but made all the worthwhile by mixing with their biggest fans.  I was lucky enough to be invited thanks to Chris Fiscus at Moses Anshell, Patti King at the AZWGA and Peggy Fiandaca president of the AZWGA.

Watch this 2 minute video featuring scenes from the banquet:

Cooks & Corks Arizona Wine Seminar

The Scottsdale Culinary Festival featured a special event called Cooks & Corks.  Guests paid $65 a ticket to be wined and dined inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing arts.  Within this special event was an even more exclusive Arizona Wine Seminar.  Seating was limited to just 65 guests who were treated to a run down on the Arizona wine industry featuring guests speakers, Pavle Milic, Todd Bostock and Kent Callaghan.  Bellow you will find 3 videos of the seminar.

Arizona Wine Week declared!

Governor Jan Brewer was unable to attend

Wine glasses cheers

Cheers!

and read the proclamation in person, so Rhonni Moffitt – executive director of the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association read it as it was written.  The press conference ( which The Weekly Wine Journal ACTUALLY attended!) was held at the Phoenix Public Market in downtown Phoenix.  In attendance were some distinguished guests and prominent Arizona wine-makers including  Todd and Kelly Bostock , Robert Carlson,  Sam Pillsbury, Curt Dunham, Kari Zemper and Pavle Milic.  Here is a quick video of Rhonni Moffitt reading the Governor’s declaration:

For more information on Arizona Wine Week click HERE

See more photos of this event on the Weekly Wine Journal’s Facebook Page!

Pillsbury Wine Company tasting room north soft opening, April 9-11 2010

I received a special invite to the “soft” opening of Pillsbury Wine Company’s Tasting Room North. A soft opening is different from a Grand Opening in that the event is not

Pillsbury tasting room north

promoted to the general public. The general public is welcome, it’s just not announced. A soft opening is where the restaurant, bar, hotel, it’s where the business opens and works out the kinks in the system by testing it out on their friends!
Pillsbury Wine Company’s North Tasting Room is located at 1012 Main street in Old Town Cottonwood, Arizona. It’s called the north tasting room because the vineyard is actually located far away in the south eastern part of the state. Cottonwood is about an hour and fifteen minute drive north of Phoenix, just a few miles from Jerome where Tool front man Maynard Keenan’s Caduceus cellars and Merkin vineyards tasting room is located.
Pillsbury’s tasting room, features a simple design and layout. It also features art work by members of Sam’s family. There is an espresso bar, and of course wine to taste!

Inside the Tasting Room

On Friday night Sam estimates that there were close to 100 visitors over the course of the night, that is some soft opening! I arrived at about 11am on Saturday to meet Sam and do a little interview for the Weekly Wine Journal’s Youtube Channel, and take some pictures for the Facebook account. Nice way to plug alternate forms of media eh??
I also tasted 2 wines. I tasted the 2008 Roan red, which is a Grenache based Rhone style wine. And I also tried out the 2009 Viognier. The Viognier had just been bottled by 3pm the previous night. We will be giving more in depth reviews of Pillsbury’s wines in the future, but here is a little teaser.

The 2008 Roan Red is stylistically quite similar to the ’07 Roan Red, if you liked that, you won’t be disappointed with the new offering.

Beautiful color on the 2008 Roan Red

The 2009 Viognier is amazing! In just a couple of weeks it will have settled nicely in the bottle, but even at the time of tasting, with less than 24 hours in the bottle this was a very nice smooth, crisp wine. I was amazed. This wine will sell out fast, only 80 cases were produced.
Before I left I had to pick up a bottle of the 2007 Petite Sirah. Only 30 cases were made of this monster 15.4% 28 brix wine. Sam told me that there are now only 3 cases left. I will be opening this one soon!

more of that beautiful color

Interview with Sam Pillsbury, Pillsbury Wine Company

Sam Pillsbury

Sam Pillsbury is a director/producer turned winemaker.  He has directed and produced feature movies, documentaries, TV series and TV movies.

His bio includes a number of interesting facts:

“He has designed and built a number of houses in New Zealand, L.A. and Phoenix, including the one he lives in…he is a sailor, a windsurfer, a scuba diver and a skilled horseback rider…He taught English Literature at Victoria University, Wellington…he was Chairman of the New Zealand Motion Picture Academy for 4 years. He has played the drums in a rock and roll band, is a mechanic who used to build his own cars literally from scratch.  He is a graduate of the Bondurant Grand Prix Road Racing School in Phoenix, Arizona and holds a competition license.”

His new project  is the Pillsbury Wine Company.  He purchased 100 acres in

A Happy Wine Maker!

Cochise County, Arizona a few years ago and planted 12 acres of Rhone vines.  He continues to add 6 acres of Rhone varieties a year.

I recently emailed Sam some questions and he responded.  In ALL CAPS.  I decided not to do any editing because I actually like the way that looks. He seems to be a larger than life character and all caps suits that just fine.

Tim:  Where were you born and where did you grow up?

Sam: BORN WATERBURY CONN. 1946, LIVED IN THE CARIBBEAN AND NEW ENGLAND, MOVED FROM OUTSIDE OF BOSTON IN 1960 WHEN I WAS 14 TO NEW ZEALAND. GREW UP IN NZ, HAD FAMILY AND FILM CAREER, MOVED TO LA IN 1989, MADE FILMS, MOVED TO PHOENIX AND STARTED VINEYARD IN 1990.

Tim: What did you want to be when you were a child?

Sam: A ROCK STAR OR A CAR DEALER!!!

Quality Control

Tim: How did you get into the film business?

Sam:  LOVED LOVED LOVED MOVIES IN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE IN NZ, DECIDED TO MAKE FILMS AFTER WRITING SOME FILM REVIEWS IN THE AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY STUDENT NEWSPAPER

Tim: When did you realize you were passionate about wine?

Sam: IN THE 1980′s. I BOUGHT SOME LAND ON WAIHEKE ISLAND FOR A VINEYARD IN THE MID 80′S BUT DROPPED PLAN WHEN I MOVED TO THE USA MAKING FILMS IN THE LATE 80′s

Tim: How did you get into the wine business?

Sam:  SAME AS THE FILM BIZ…LOVED WINE, DECIDED TO MAKE IT!

Tim: Why did you choose Arizona?

Sam: WAS HERE SHOOTING IN 1993, MET WOMAN ON CREW WHO I GOT TOGETHER WITH AND WHILE CAMPING IN AZ IN THE LATE 1990′s SUDDENLY REALIZED THE POSSIBILITY OF GROWING WINE HERE…POSSIBLY PARTLY BECAUSE OF SEEING FINE WINES DEVELOP IN UNLIKELY PLACES IN NZ.  I ALWAYS LOVED BEING A GROUND BREAKER (WAS THE FIRST NEW NZER TO GET A FILM IN TO THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL).  IT IS VERY EXCITING BEING ON OF THE FIRST, AND IN THE CASE OF VINEYARD LAND, ABLE TO PURCHASE ACREAGE OF PRIME GRAPE GROWING LAND FOR $400/ACRE!!!

Tim: Do you want to continue with your film career or is that on the back burner, how do you juggle the responsibilities between the wine and the film?

Sam: I HAVE A SETUP WHERBY I CAN HAND OVER ESSENTIAL STUFF IN THE WINE BIZ AND DO THE REST BY EMAIL OR PHONE…BUT FOR NOW I HAVE PUT FILMS ON HOLD AS THIS NEW OPERATION HAS BECOME CONSUMING…WE WILL SEE WHAT EVOLVES…

Tim:  If you won 200 million dollars what would you do?

Sam: SET UP A CHARITABLE FOUNDATION TO TEACH PEOPLE TO BECOME SELF SUFFICIENT HERE AND OVERSEAS AND PROMOTE PROGRESSIVE CHANGE IN THIS COUNTRY, LIKE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE. AND BUILD A FABULOUS WINERY/SPA/RESTAURANT ON MY VINEYARD LAND…

Tim: Name some of your favorite films and favorite wines

Sam: 400 BLOWS, JULES AND JIM, THE GODFATHER

GRANGE HERMITAGE, HOSPICE DU BEAUNE, ANY CHATEAUNEUF DE PAPE

Tim:  Your favorite piece of American culture, your favorite piece of New Zealand culture?

Sam: ROCK AND ROLL, 1968 CAMARO SS CONVERTIBLE,  NEW ZEALAND ARTIST RALPH HOTERE

Pillsbury Wine Company makes a Rose, a Pinot Gris, several Rhone blends, and a Petite Sirah.

Just another day at work

The Rhone blends are called “Roan Reds”

2006 “Roan Red”:  Grenache Syrah Mouvedre

2007 “Roan Red”: 93.2% Syrah, 6.8% Grenache. 186 cases produced

2007 “Diva” 64.3% Grenache, 21.4% Petite Sirah, 14.3% Mouvedre…This wine was named “Best of Arizona” by the San Fransisco Examiner.  173 Cases.

2007 Petite Sirah.  Only 30 cases produced!