Darin was pouring his award winning wines at the 2012 Arizona Wine Grower’s Association “Festival on the Farm at South Mountain” on November 17th. I presumed because Darin is relatively young that he was new to the wine business, but as you’ll find out in this interview, I was wrong!
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 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.
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.
Every once in a while I am lucky enough to attend a truly remarkable wine event. Not that the other events are not remarkable.
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:
Desserts: Petit Fours, Truffles & Confections – Sonoita Sparkles Peach
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.
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Here is a short video of some scenes from the evening: