Wine lovers have long depended on The Golden State to get their fill of rich reds and whites. After all, California produces an average of 85 percent of wine in the United States. But that doesn’t mean the beloved regions of Sonoma and Napa Valley are the only ticket to a good time when it comes to sipping wine.
To the surprise of many, California’s neighboring state, Arizona, is quickly making a name in the industry. With dozens of vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms — many of which are just a short drive from Phoenix and Tucson — The Copper State proves that wine pairs perfectly with sunshine and scenic desert views.
So, whether you’re a wine connoisseur in search of the latest craze or an amateur looking to escape from the city for a few hours on your next Arizona getaway, you’ll find the perfect pour for your tastes.
Expand your knowledge of wine with every sip in the following regions:
Surrounded by the Santa Rita, San Cayetano and Huachuca mountains, the Sonoita-Elgin region provides the perfect 45-minute drive from Tucson via beautiful Highway 83. Don’t let the area’s cattle ranch reputation fool you. Sonoita is not only the oldest wine producing area in Arizona, but the first official American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the state.
In fact, the region’s soil composition has been compared to that found in Burgundy, France. Warm days help develop and ripen the skin of the grapes, while cool nights maintain the acidity, resulting in the ideal combination for full-bodied wines.
Where to sip:
Callaghan Vineyards: Most noted for its red wines, Callaghan Vineyards is a must-visit when in Elgin and has produced wine served at the White House on three separate occasions.
Kief-Joshua Vineyards: Situated in the middle of Elgin’s “winery row,” this family-owned vineyard welcomes you into an elegant, Italian Gothic ambiance for tastings often led by the owner and winemaker himself, Kief Manning.
Dos Cabezas Wineworks: This nationally recognized winery taps into its two Southern Arizona vineyards for the distinctive, high-quality fruit that makes up each and every glass.
About an hour from Tucson, Willcox Wine Country grows 74 percent of Arizona’s wine grapes. The area’s locally sourced red, white and blush wines can be enjoyed at Willcox’s individual wineries and tasting rooms, or by attending one of the grape-growing region’s award-winning festivals every fall and spring.
Where to sip:
Aridus Wine Company: As one of the largest winery facilities in Arizona, Aridus welcomes vino lovers to stroll around the modern rustic-inspired winery while sipping its award-winning grapes.
Bodega Pierce: Situated at an elevation of 4,300 feet on what is known as the Willcox Bench, Bodega Pierce is the perfect vineyard to swirl wine while enjoying a picnic on the patio.
Golden Rule Vineyards: Quality reds and whites will get you to the Golden Rule Vineyards, but it’s the views from the elevated porch overlooking the valley that will keep you here.
Verde Valley Wine Trail
Sipping and savoring isn’t limited to Southern Arizona. Nestled between the Red Rocks of Sedona and Mingus Mountain, the Verde Valley Wine Trail is about an hour from Prescott and Flagstaff, inviting wine enthusiasts to spend an afternoon sipping above the floor of the desert.
The region’s diverse wineries and tasting rooms can be found in the charming towns of Cottonwood, Sedona, Jerome, Clarksdale and Cornville, giving you the opportunity to soak up some culture between sips.
Where to sip:
Alcantara Vineyards: There’s a reason hundreds of weddings and celebrations are held at Alcantara Vineyards each year. This Tuscan-style vineyard in the foothills of the Verde Valley pairs fine wine with some of Arizona’s finest views.
Burning Tree Cellars: Boutique wine lovers flock to this eclectic tasting room specializing in small batch, meticulously maintained wines that refuse to ever be sold in chain supermarkets.
Page Springs Cellars: Overlooking Oak Creek Canyon, this postcard-worthy vineyard perfects the art of wine tasting with live music, a bistro and art gallery.
This article was published through a partnership with Vacations by Marriott. Read the original story: Wine Lovers: 3 Regions to Swirl & Sip in Unexpected Arizona on the blog.