Arizona Wine

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:

Arizona Wine Festival on the Farm | Nov 19 2011

wine tasting farm at south mountain

Arizona Wine Festival on the Farm, held amongst the pecan groves on The Farm at South Mountain, Phoenix Arizona

The 3rd annual Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Festival on the Farm will be held at The Farm at South Mountain this Saturday, November 29th, 2011

The annual wine festival is THE Arizona Wine event of the year – YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS IT! 😉

The Arizona Wine Festival will feature 20 wineries pouring wines from Arizona’s wine producing regions of Verde Valley, Wilcox, Sonoita and Elgin.  In addition  there will be a People’s Choice wine competition and educational seminars such as Wine Pairings 101.

wine peoples choice award

Wine education seminars and people's choice awards

The Festival will culminate with an amazing auction.  Last year some of the amazing items on the block included dinner for 4 prepared in your home by FnB’s Pavle Milic and Charlene Badman, and the top auction block which fetched $8000 was dinner with Maynard Keenan prepared by Mark Tarbel.

Tickets for the event are still available here:

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.

Review | Arizona Wine Grower’s Festival on the Farm 2010

The 2nd annual Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Festival on the Farm was place to be in the Valley of the Sun this past weekend.  The Pecan tree groves at The Farm at South Mountain provided a beautifully serene and intimate setting for an afternoon featuring dozens of Arizona wineries and winemakers.  Over 700 guests were given the opportunity to sample award winning wine from over 20 of Arizona’s best vineyards and wineries and also meet and mingle with the wine makers themselves.

In addition to sampling wines, guests were also given the opportunity to participate in wine seminars and also judge wines in the People’s Choice wine contest.  Guests were given blind samples to rate  while listening to panelists discussions led by moderator Richard Ruelas of the Arizona Republic.  Panelists included FnB’s Pavle Milic, Dos Cabeza’s Patty Coughlin and Arizona wine broker Jim Wiskerchen. The People’s Choice winners were  Merkin Vineyards Shinola and  Arizona Stronghold Site Archive Bonita Springs Chardonnay.

The highlight of my day was a nice stroll through the Pecan groves talking with wine maker Eric Glomski.  Click here to see the videos

Check out photos from this event on The Weekly Wine Journal’s Facebook page

Complete list of Award Winners HERE

Arizona Wine Grower’s reception|Quiessence restaurant|2010

Every once in a while I am lucky enough to attend a truly remarkable wine event.  Not that the other events are not remarkable.

Arizona wine awards banquet 2010

Quiessence Restaurant

It’s just that some events are so special that they really give you that feeling that you are in the midst of or witness to the start of something exceptional.  The 2nd annual Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Awards reception 2010 was one of those events.

The banquet was held at Quiessence restaurant at The Farm at South Mountain.  First a little background about the Farm:  Originally developed by Dwight Heard of the Heard museum, in the 1920’s the 10 acre parcel was planted with over 100 pecan trees.  These trees still stand today and provide a wonderful, lush and serene setting for Quiessence restaurant which is nestled way in the back of the property. Quiessence has accumulated an impressive list of awards but even more impressive were the culinary creations of executive chef Gregory LaPrad and Chef du Cuisine Anthony Adiario that were paired with the gold medal winning wines

The food and wine pairings were set up at 7 different stations around the restaurant and out in the garden. Here is a list of the menu and wine pairings:

House Cured Meats & Salumi – Arizona Stronghold Vineyards “Dayden” 2009

Winter Squash Soup – Caduceus “Dos Ladrones” 2009

Handmade pasta: Capunti with tomato, eggplant, fennel and sardines – Caduceus “Kitsune” Sangiovese 2008

Potato & Cheese Francobolli with Black Trumpet Mushroom Cream Sauce – ASV Bonita Springs Chardonnay 2009

Housemade Boudin Blanc Sausage with “El Norte” Braised Crimson Gold Apples & Fried Sage – Dos Cabezas “El Norte” 2008

“Frito Misto” Crispy Fried Shrimp, Calamari & Alaskan Halibut – Merkin “The Diddler” 2009

Braised Beef Wellington with Roasted Vegetable Compote – Alcantara Cabernet Sauvignon 2007-Paso Robles

Desserts: Petit Fours, Truffles & Confections – Sonoita Sparkles Peach

Quiessence Restaurant phoenix

Chef du Cuisine Anthony Adiario

Also out in the garden were a cellist and a violinist playing contemporary music accompanied by an Macbook back up band which really added a nice touch to the ambience.

I was introduced to a man named Bob Webb, who founded the first winery in Arizona back in 1980.  I had a very interesting discussion with Mr. Webb.  One of my dreams is to buy some land and plant a vineyard and start a winery, which is quite unlike any other wine bloggers dreams!   Mr Webb was actually retired out of the wine business but recently came out of retirement when he decided to plant vines in the spring of 2010.  He said it’s in his blood, he cant stop.  Mr Webb planted multiple varieties on 13 acres high in the Sierra Madre mountain range.  At elevations above 7,000 feet these could possibly be the highest vineyards in North America.  He says he will only make wine from those vines if the fruit is exceptional, otherwise he will just scrap the idea.  I will be writing more on this project in the future.

Later on I  met legendary Arizona wine maker Kent Callaghan (pronounced Calla Gan).  We were talking inside in a small hallway and I told him I had grown up in British Columbia and suddenly he became animated.  Kent is actually a shy and humble guy – not very comfortable with the limelight. But with the B.C. connection he became a bit more animated.  He told me that his parents had owned property on Galiano Island  and  he had learned how to grow grapes from his father there.  Then he said “Hey, you like wine? Come with me.”  This is where an event like this becomes truly interesting… we went outside and he reached under one of the tables and pulled a couple of bottles of wine out of a box.  I sat with Mr Callaghan and Todd Bostock and drank some truly remarkable wine which shall remain nameless.

This event was a very nice and  intimate conclusion to a year of hard work by the Arizona wine industry.  It was really nice to see all of the people I have interviewed and met over the past year all in one place.

Visit the Weekly Wine Journal’s Facebook page for more PHOTOS

Here is a short video of some scenes from the evening:

List of Award Winners HERE

Dinner with Maynard James Keenan for $8000

There’s a Master Card commercial in this headline somewhere but I’m not going to go there!  This past Saturday November 6th, 2010 the 2nd annual Arizona Wine Grower’s Festival on the Farm was held at The Farm at South Mountain.  One of really interesting things that happened that day was a live auction.  Some of the items being auctioned included wine tours to Paso Robles, and even a 3 night stay in Napa.  But the item on the block that fetched the highest bid of the day was dinner with Maynard James Keenan of Tool and A Perfect Circle fame.  The dinner will be prepared by world renowned and award-winning chef Mark Tarbell. The dinner will take place at a super top secret “undisclosed location” The winner also gets a case of Caduceus Cellars wine do drink with dinner and can take home the unused wine.  In the middle of the auction Maynard sent a message that he would be adding an additional 6 bottles of wine.  Here is a video of this auction.

Complete results of the auction click here

Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Live Auction Bids 2010

The following is a list of the winning bids from the A.W.G.A. Live Auction held at the Festival on The Farm, November 6th 2010

Lot1: Total Wine tasting for 20 people:  $600

Lot 2: Total Wine tasting for 20 people: $415

Lot 3: Sedona Rounge 2 night stay, $100 credit, Sedona Aventure Tours-2 Water to wine tour: $650

Lot 4: Enchantment Resort 2 night stay, Tlaquepaque $100 credit, Day in the West tour for 2:  $700

Lot 5: Hospice Du Rhone Weekend package for two: $1,300

Lot 6: Napa Valley  3 night stay for 4 people at Stag’s Leap Winery Plus tastings for 4 at Opus One, Pine Ridge, Stag’s Leap and Joseph Phelps: $2000

Lot 7: Wine Dinner.  Rod Keeling, Keeling Schaefer Vineyards and Rod Kass- Cafe Roka: $2,600

Lot 8: Wine Dinner. Eric Glomski, Page Springs Cellars and Jeff Smedstad- Elote Cafe: $2,000

Lot 9: Wine Dinner. Sam Pillsbury, Pillsbury Wine Company and Greg LaPrad – Quiessence Restaurant: $1,550

Lot 10: Wine Dinner.  Kent Callaghan, Callaghan Vineyards  and Charlene Badman – FnB Scottsdale: $4,800

Lot 11: Wine Dinner.  Todd Bostock, Dos Cabezas Wine Works and Chris Bianco- Pizzeria Bianco with dessert by chef Tracy Dempsey: $4,200

Lot 12: Wine Dinner.  Dick Erath of Cimarron Vineyard and John Hall of Canela Bistro: $2,100

Lot 13: Wine Dinner.  Maynard Keenan of Caduceus Cellars with Mark Tarbell of Tarbell’s Restaurant: $8,000 …Watch the video of this Auction HERE

Auction Guide PDF

Wine Maker Interview|Eric Glomski

I had a chance to ask Arizona wine maker and Blood into Wine co-star Eric Glomski some questions while at the Arizona Wine Grower’s Festival at The Farm on Saturday November 6th, 2010.  We took a stroll through the pecan groves and chatted a while.

Part one:

Part two:

Dinner with Arizona Chefs and Winemakers up for Auction

The Arizona Wine Growers Association is providing a unique opportunity to enjoy an intimate family style meal prepared by a high-profile Arizona chef along with wines selected and served by a leading Arizona winemaker. Seven such dinner packages will be auctioned off at The Festival at The Farm on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Unlike other chef and winemaker dinners, these meals will be enjoyed at a single table with the chef and winemaker dining alongside auction winners, sharing their creations and stories in an intimate, once-in-a-lifetime setting.

During the live auction, attendees will have the opportunity to bid on a chance for themselves and five guests to enjoy one of these rare dinners with an Arizona chef and winemaker. The dinner-wine pairing lots being auctioned include:

  1. Dick Erath (Cimarron Vineyard – Willcox)  and John Hall (Canela Bistro – Sonoita)
  2. Maynard Keenan (Caduceus Cellars – Jerome) and Mark Tarbell (Tarbell’s Restaurant – Phoenix)
  3. Todd Bostock (Dos Cabezas WineWorks – Sonoita) and Chris Bianco (Pizzeria Bianco – Phoenix)
  4. Kent Callaghan (Callaghan Vineyards – Elgin) and Charlene Badman (FnB Restaurant – Scottsdale)
  5. Rod Keeling (Keeling Schaefer Vineyards – Willcox) and Rod Kass (Cafe Roka – Bisbee)
  6. Sam Pillsbury (Pillsbury Wine Company – Cottonwood) and Greg LaPrad (Quiessence Restaurant – Phoenix)
  7. Eric Glomski (Page Springs Cellars – Cornville) and Jeff Smedstad (Elote Café – Sedona)

In addition to these all-star dining experiences, other auction lots include wine getaways, vacation packages and wine tasting experiences.

Tickets to attend The Festival at The Farm are on sale now and can be purchased online for $65.  Click HERE for tickets

Wine review: Arizona Stronghold

I recently tasted these 4 wines from Arizona Stronghold at the famous Wrigley Mansion.  See my article on that event HERE.

“Tazi” 2008

The Blend: 52% Sauvignon Blanc, 21% Chardonnay, 19% Riesling and 8% Malvasia

Aging: Stainless steel and neutral oak

Production: 1,967 Cases

Alcohol: 13.7%

Price: $17.99

This was the first wine of the evening, and I think it is perfect for that purpose.  A good balance between the crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc and the sweetness of the Riesling.  It’s not to dry and not too sweet.

“Dayden” 2009

The Blend: Zinfandel, Grenache, Sangiovese, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc –no information on the exact percentages yet

Aging: Stainless Steel

Production: 872 Cases

Alcohol: 11.9%

Delicious!  That is my single tasting note.  Light, crisp and refreshing.  The fruit is predominantly Strawberry and Cherry with a hint of terroir vaguely French in nature.

“Mangus” 2008

The Blend: 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Sangiovese and 9% Merlot.

Aging: Neutral Oak

Production: 1,359 cases

Alcohol: 14.7%

Price: $19.99

Another interesting wine, I found it to be quite powerful.  If you like the bigger bolder reds this will be the wine for you.  The style is a lot more subtle than an Australian fruit bomb or a highly extracted Napa Cab.  A dry red wine, the fruit is predominantly cherry with earthy components and a strong backbone of acidity.

“Nachise” 2008

The Blend: 52% Syrah, 27% Grenache, 15% Petite Sirah and 6% Mourverdre

Aging: Neutral Oak

Production: 2,009 cases

Alcohol: 14.7%

Price: $19.99

This is a wine a could drink all night long, without having to switch to something else.  Why?  Great dark fruit, blackberry blue berry, very smooth fine tannins and a very interesting component that can only be described as Juniper and or pine.  The wine is French in nature, more specifically Rhone.  Once again, not a highly extracted fruit bomb, which is a welcome change for my palate.  Great supple mouthfeel and nice long lingering finish.  At 14.7% I would have expected more heat from the alcohol but I was pleasantly surprised, the heat is kept in check, and the alcohol provides plenty of lift for the aromatics.