Caduceus Cellars

Arizona Winemakers Talk about Terroir

Arizona Winemakers Talk about Terroir

Arizona  winemakers Maynard James Keenan of Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars, Anne Rancone of Lightning Ridge Cellars, Kent Callaghan of Callaghan Vineyards, Rob Hammelman of Sand Reckoner Vineyards, Curt Dunham of Lawrence Dunham vineyards and Cynthia Snapp of Javelina Leap Vineyards all talk about the terroir in Arizona.

The discussion was held at the 2013 Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Festival on the Farm in Phoenix, Arizona.

Take a look at all the photos on my Facebook page !

Twitter:  @WKLYwinejournal

Maynard James Keenan on Arizona Wine | part two

Maynard James Keenan talks about Arizona Wine

Arizona wine maker - Maynard James Keenan

Arizona wine maker – Maynard James Keenan

Maynard James Keenan was one of the wine makers who spoke at a forum on Arizona terrior at the 2013 Arizona Wine Grower’s Association “Festival on the farm”.  He spoke a little bit about what makes his vineyard site unique while guests were treated to the 2008 Caduceus Cellars “Judith” (sold out)

For more pictures visit

Maynard James Keenan | wine maker interview

I had a chance to sit down with Arizona wine maker Maynard James Keenan at this year’s Arizona Wine Grower’s Association “Festival on the Farm”. Mr Keenan is the owner of Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus cellars.

Arizona Stronghold website
Caduceus cellars website
Arizona Wine Grower’s Association website

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

Roadtrip to Jerome Arizona for “Blood into Wine”

On Sunday August 8th I took a road trip to Jerome Arizona to watch “Blood into Wine”.  Blood into Wine is a documentary directed by Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke and stars Maynard Keenan and Eric Glomski.  Jerome is located in the Verde Valley which is in northern/central Arizona, about 120 miles north of Phoenix and a world away in terms of climate.  Jerome is a former copper mining outpost situated on the steep slope of Cleopatra hill at an elevation of over 5,000 feet above sea level.  It was once nicknamed the wildest town in the west.  The documentary was playing at the appropriately named “Spook Hall” in Jerome.

I arrived early and the first thing I noticed as I stepped out of my truck was the air.  Humid and cool!  Clouds and fog were caressing the top of the mountain, I could see them passing by, almost as if the earth was rotating right in front of me.  I took a stroll through the town, looking in the store fronts and getting a general feel for the location.  I decided to head over to Spook Hall early, I didn’t know what to expect as there were rumors that Maynard Keenan would be showing up to answer questions.  And as I thought people were beginning to gather, an hour before showtime.  As showtime drew nearer the anxious crowd lined up down the street.  I have never seen the rock concert experience at a movie theatre before, it was quite interesting.  There was an eclectic crowd, some Tool fans, some children, some senior citizens, locals, out of towners.  The doors opened and the crowd surged, but managed to stay composed enough to proceed in an orderly single file.  I sat down in the front.

The film:  I wouldn’t say that I’m a documentary buff, although I do enjoy watching the History Channel.  However, this film is not your average documentary.  The film makers manage to incorporate a real sense of humor.  A quirky sometimes under stated sense of humor.  There were quite a few moments that had everyone in the hall laughing out loud, heartily.  Other times the jokes would elicit chuckling.   One of the funniest bits in the movie is the part where Maynard is interviewed on a show called “Focus on Interesting Things”  I won’t spoil it for you, but that refrain was quite funny.  One of the things that really comes through is that although Keenan is a very serious artist, he does also have a sense of humor.  He has made a career out of not revealing too much about himself outside of what he conveys through his lyrics.  He has been a master of maintaining and protecting a personal brand, the Maynard brand, the mystique,the aloof and sometimes angry rock star.  However, in this film we see that he is also capable of self effacing humor, and that he is also capable of hard work.  Very difficult physical labor.  If you think owning and maintaining your own vineyard is easy, think again.  In fact, if you are up for a REAL challenge go and volunteer at a vineyard during harvest.  Preferably a small one on a very steep rocky slope in the thin air at 5,246 feet.  You’ll feel your oxygen depleted muscles burning in no time.  It’s quite apparent from the film that Keenan is not just lending his name to a wine label, this is not just passing fancy for him.  This is what his life consists of:  He lives in Jerome, tending to his vines and making wine.  To take a break from that he sometimes goes out on tour.  Not the other way around.

After the film  Keenan and one of the films two directors  Christopher

The crowd for the 2pm showing

Pomerenke and Producer Chris “Topper” McDaniel got up on stage for a quick Q&A session.  At this point you could feel the excited tension in the air.  I managed to ask a question.  I wanted to know more about how Tim Alexander managed to “get” Maynard to Jerome.  Keenan answered me with his deadpan humor: “Tim brought me here, he left, and I stayed”  I wanted to know how Tim managed to convince Maynard who was living in L.A. at the time, to get all the way over to Jerome in the middle of nowhere, in Arizona.  Then I remembered a little info from the film.  Maynard said he had a dream about being in Arizona.  So maybe when Tim made the suggestion he thought to himself  “wow that’s a weird coincidence, I just had a dream about that, well okay mr Tim, how do I get there?”  and Tim might have said something to the effect of you go to Phoenix and turn left, left again and then another left.  It would have been interesting to witness that initial response.  The response of the man who wrote about L.A. and California so lovingly in the song Aenema .  He might have stepped out of his vehicle much like I did, surveying the expansive view of the Verde Valley and the Mogollon Rim in the distance.

The view that Maynard Keenan might have seen!

He might have taken a deep breath of that fresh cool mountain air.  He must have realized quite quickly that this is where he was to live for the next 15 years.

One of the more interesting questions which elicited the most forth coming response from Keenan was a question about fame and wine.  The questioner asked if the recent successes and awareness created by the film would allow Caduceus to expand and ship wine out all over the world.  Keenan said that was not the goal.  The goal is to operate a sustainable operation.  A representation of the local terroir, sourced from the local land and for the local people.  Putting the wines in trucks and ships and planes and expending energy and resources to send the product all over the world would defeat the purpose.

After the film everyone in attendance was treated to a free glass of wine at Maynard’s Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards tasting room, in Jerome.  I had the Merkin Vineyards 2009 Shinola, which they informed me has not even been released yet.  The 2006 Shinola was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and only 140 cases were produced.  It was a decent inexpensive representation of Arizona wine.  Good fruit, not to0 ripe, solid tannins.

Also after the film I ran into Christopher Pomerenke on the street

Christopher Pomerenke

and he allowed me to snap a couple of pictures of him.  Totally cool, down to earth guy.  In retrospect I should have asked him if he would do a little video for the Weekly Wine Journal’s Youtube Channel.  Maybe next time.

Blood into Wine comes out of DVD September 2010, look for it, or buy it from the website:

Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards website

Arizona Judgment: Arizona Wines Vs. the World wine competition RESULTS

June 2nd 2010, Arizona wines faced off against wines from around the world in a blind competition.  The results were stunning.  Let’s take a look…

1st place white: Callaghan Vineyards, 2008 Lisa’s.  Unfortunately this wine seems to be sold out.

1st place red:  Caduceus Cellars, 2008 Judith

These wines were pitted against the likes of Santa Margherita,

Assessing the juice

Conundrum, Doyenne Metier, Turley and Cakebread.  The red matchups included Ruffino Chianti Classico, Mollydooker the boxer, Condado de Haza, Cotes du Rhone E. Guigal and Chateau Lynch Bages.

Here is the top 5 for white wines and red wines:

1. Callaghan 2008 ‘Lisa’s Arizona
2. Santa Margherita 2008 Pinot Grigio Italy
3. Cakebread Cellars 2008 Chardonnay California
4. Caduceus 2008 ‘Dos Ladrones’ Arizona
5. Carlson Creek 2008 Chardonnay Arizona

1. Caduceus 2008 ‘Nagual del Judith’ Arizona
2. Condado de Haza 2006 Ribiera del Duero Spain
3. Keeling Schaefer 2007 ‘Three Sisters’ Syrah Arizona
4. Arizona Stronghold 2008 ‘Nachise’ Arizona
5. Mollydooker 2008 ‘The Boxer’ Shiraz Australia

The judges were:

Gary Vaynerchuck- Winelibrary, and Vayner Media

Laura Williamson- Master Sommelier

The panelists

Chris Bianco-  Pizzeria Bianco

Payton Curry – Cafe Boa

Mark Tarbell-  Tarbell’s restaurant

Tadeo Borchardt – wine maker at California’s Neyers Vineyards

Anne Rosenzweig – New York City award winning chef

The judges tasted all the wines in a blind setting.  First they were brought 10 glasses of white wine and when they were done analyzing those, they were brought 10 glasses of red wine. They analyzed elements of each wine according to Sommelier Journal’s guidelines and rated on the Journal’s 20 point system.  1 point would represent a wine that has absolutely no redeeming qualities, and 20 points would represent a wine that has every redeeming quality. They analyzed the color, aroma, acidity, structure and balance., as well as mouthfeel and finish.  The room was very quiet during the judging as the panelists were not allowed to talk to each other and the press was not allowed to talk to the panelists.  There were 15 traditional media outlets and 4 non traditional -aka bloggers on hand.  When the judges were finished, their scores were collected and emailed to the Denver offices of Sommelier Journal for tabulation and analysis.  While everyone was waiting Journalists and Bloggers interacted with the judges.  During this time judges began speculating on where some of the wines were from.  One one in particular apparently had very distinct Bordeaux like qualities which must have been the 2005 Chateau Lynch Bages from Bordeaux.  Later on the scores came back via email and the results were revealed.  At this time the room was a buzz with activity.  Rhonni Moffit, executive director of The Arizona Wine Growers Association was on the phone ecstatically phoning her members to tell the good news.  Bloggers were texting furiously the results to twitter.  Cameras flashed and filmed.

In all in all the event was a super success for Arizona wines.  The positive attention will go a long way to educating the local public as well as the general public on the fact that best of Arizona wines can compete with the best of the world.