Grapevines can grow just about anywhere. Wine grapes, however, are a little pickier. With a preference for rocky, sandy soil and plenty of sunshine – plus an aversion to intensely cold temperatures – Arizona certainly fits the bill.
As of 2020, our state is home to over 120 vineyards, wineries, and cellars. So if you love wine, allow us to be your local sommelier! Read on to learn more about some of the best wineries the high desert has to offer.
Merkin Vineyards & Caduceus Cellars
With a tasting room in Old Town Scottsdale, put Merkin Vineyards at the top of your must-visit list. The brainchild of musician Maynard James Keenan (vocalist for Tool, A Perfect Circle, and more), Merkin makes “high-elevation wines out of predominantly Italian and Spanish [grape] varieties.
Open 11 AM to 9 PM Sunday through Thursday and 11 AM to 11 PM Saturday and Sunday, come for the reds, whites, and rosés (or mead or cider, if you prefer), and stay for the farm-to-table fare, including impressive charcuterie boards and housemade gelati and sorbetti.
If you like what you see (and taste), consider making the trek to Jerome, Arizona, where Keenan currently resides, and opened his original tasting room dubbed Caduceus Cellars. The sister brand to Merkin, Caduceus focuses on creating higher-end wines using rare grape varietals.
Alcantara Vineyards is a “sustainably farmed, passionately tended” winery located in Camp Verde, Arizona. Home to over 20,000 vines, Alcantara is a popular destination for the scenery alone. Even better, you can get a massage onsite while bald eagles soar overhead. Or host a wedding ceremony with unbeatable photo ops. Or book a standup paddleboard yoga sesh, followed by a relaxing wine tasting.
Alcantara is open daily from 11 AM to 6 PM, with live music on the patio nearly every afternoon. Visit today to experience the majesty for yourself.
Arizona Hops and Vines
Arizona Hops and Vines is located on a farm just outside Tucson in Sonoita, Arizona. Situated at a higher elevation than Phoenix and Tucson – and therefore experiencing more moderate temperatures – the soil composition is very similar to that in Burgundy, France. In the 1970s, a scientist took notice and opened Sonoita’s first winery shortly thereafter.
Several aspiring winemakers followed suit, including sisters Megan and Shannon, who founded Hops and Vines in 2012. “Not your average winery,” stop by to enjoy some wine with a side of bocce ball and horseshoes, farm goats and free-range peacocks, plus unlimited handfuls of Cheetos. Current hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday from 11 AM to 4 PM and Saturday and Sundays from 11 AM to 6 PM.
To read about more adventures and activities in and around Gilbert, head over to the Cadia Crossing blog.