Let’s Talk About Wine

Arizona’s wine industry has five regions representing our state’s award winning wines. Three of the major growing regions are in the high desert.

Row of vintage wine bottles in a wine cellar (shallow DOF; color

According to the Arizona Wine Growers Association the first major region is in southern Arizona in the Sonoita/Elgin area with. This is the only designated American Viticulture Area (AVA) in the state. The second major area is in the Willcox area in Cochise County, and the Verde Valley is our third major region for growing grapes.

The elevation of these vineyards range between 3800 ft. to almost 6000 ft., allowing nice hot days and cool nights during the grape growing season. The Skull Valley area up north is beginning to turn into a nice grape growing area with three vineyards. Grapes are also growing in other areas of the state like Benson, Payson, Portal, and Tombstone.

In total Arizona has 83 bonded wineries spread out over 942 acres of land under vine. Our top five varieties in terms of production in 2014 were Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, and Sangiovese. The statewide value of production totaled $2.2 million last year, according to a recent study by the USDA.

As far as wine goes, Arizona’s industry is still rather young. Wine itself however has a rich history. Here are some facts about wine that you may find interesting.

  • The Vintage date on a bottle of wine indicates the year the grapes were picked, not the year of bottling.
  • There are around 2.8 pounds of grapes in one bottle of wine.
  • The US ranks number four on the list of top wine producers in the world. Italy, France, and Spain take the top three spots.
  • The idea that all wines get better with age is a misconception. Around 90% wines should be used within one year of their creation.
  • There are more than 20 million acres of grapes planted worldwide.
  • It takes a crop of newly planted grape vines four to five years to grow before it can be harvested.
  • The residents of New York, California, and Florida drink more wine than residents of the other 47 states combined.
  • Studies have shown that drinking wine in moderation may fight cancer, obesity, and diabetes, and lower high cholesterol, and reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • Red wines loose color as they age.
  • White wines gain color with age. They go from pale yellow to having a brownish hue.
  • The reason wine testers swirl their glass is to persuade the wine to release its aromas. They usually won’t fill the glass more than a third full so that the aromas can collect and not spill when they swirl.
  • To distinguish good wine from inferior wine, hold the wine in your mouth for a moment then either spit it out or swallow it. The aftertaste of a really good wine will linger for quite some time, while inferior wines will have a short aftertaste.
  • The earliest evidence of wine that we have is 8,000 years old and comes from the Republic of Georgia.

Have you tried any Arizona wine lately?  Fill Your Plate has a list of wineries in Arizona, however they are not all represented on our page. You can go on the Arizona Wine Growers Association webpage for more. Cheers!


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