A R I Z O N A
Central to the Arizona Wine story is Arizona and all the things that make it the unique place that it is. Arizona is a place without equal, full of incredible natural wonders, one-of-kind places and a long and storied history you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Arizona offers visitors incomparable experiences, from wine country to the scenic beauty and rich history of the Old West.
Due to its large area and variations in elevation, the state has a wide variety of localized climate conditions. In the lower elevations, the climate is primarily desert, with mild winters and extremely hot summers. The northern third of Arizona and other mountainous areas at significantly higher altitudes than the lower desert have an appreciably cooler climate, with cold winters and mild summers. Somewhere in between these two extremes, pioneering wine growers have found a home for Arizona Wine.
Due to the primarily dry climate, large diurnal temperature variations occur in less-developed areas of Arizona above 3,500 feet. The swings can be as large as 50 °F (28 °C) in the summer months. In an altitude band of 3,500 to 5,500 feet above sea-level, almost all of Arizona wine vineyards are found. Arizona has an average annual rainfall of only 12.7 in, which comes during two rainy seasons, with cold fronts coming from the Pacific Ocean during the winter and a monsoon in the summer.
The monsoon occurs towards the end of summer and early fall, during the wine growing season. In July, August and early September, predominate wind direction shifts to the Southeast, pulling tropical moisture up from Mexico. As a result, the dew-point rises dramatically for a brief, wet-summer, rainy season. During this time, the air contains large amounts of water vapor. This higher moisture and summer convection brings lightning, thunderstorms, wind, and torrential, if usually brief, downpours. These monsoon storms are often called a Haboob, which help define the uniqueness of the Arizona Wine climate.
Viticulture in Arizona began in the 16th century when missionary Spanish Jesuit priests began to plant grapevines and make wine for sacramental use. Early pioneers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, like John Slaughter on his San Bernadino Ranch near Douglas and Henry Schuerman near Sedona along Oak Creek, developed early wine grape vineyards.
The modern Arizona Wine industry was established in the early 1980’s, following the development of experimental vineyards by the University of Arizona. Led by Dr. Gordon Dutt, studies were completed demonstrating the feasibility of various wine growing regions. In 1982, a collection of new laws enabled the Arizona Farm Winery Act. The first licensed wineries in Arizona were formed shortly after the enactment of the new law. Dr. Dutt himself formed Sonoita Vineyards, the first winery of this modern era. The Arizona Wine Growers Association was formed in 1983.
W O R L D C L A S S
World-class is often associated with such adjectives as premium, quality, and authenticity. Arizona Wine and our winemakers not only aspire to these qualities, many Arizona Wines have been recognized/rated in Wine Spectator, Wall Street Journal, the Jefferson Cup, San Francisco Chronicle, Arizona Republic and many other national and international publications and competitions. Arizona Wine has been served multiple times at the White House, Congressional receptions in the nation’s Capital and featured at James Beard dinners in New York.
Arizona wines are of the highest caliber, the grapes are also of the highest quality and the wine making skills of our members are in abundance and obvious in the wine. World-class is an actual wine classification and should not be confused with a personality trait or marketing characteristic. Time will reveal if the actual quality of Arizona Wine is on par with other notable brands on an international stage, however, we are confident when you experience Arizona Wine, you will believe!
A U T H E N T I C I T Y
Authenticity is the expression of our wine growers and their vineyards, the unique characteristics of our wine, the relationship with this unique place on the planet, real-world settings and actual locations. The collective wine growers and vintners that comprise the Arizona Wine story are each unique in their own rights. These individual stories make up this message of authenticity and comprise a rich tapestry of rugged individualism, hard work, and tempering challenges and obstacles in achieving their dreams and objectives.
L O C A L
The unique diurnal characteristics that make Arizona an attractive and effective growing region, the extreme range in temperatures from day to night, monsoonal impact of the seasonal weather, high-altitude nature of the region all comprise the message of a wine that is local to this place. Additionally, the richness of the Arizona soil and the elements comprised therein make Arizona Wine truly distinctive. This is an overlapping characteristic with ‘Arizona’ but the key differentiation is the direct effect the region plays in the growth and quality of the product itself.
Arizona is a dynamic state. For decades it is ranked near or at the top in population growth and economic development. With over 7 million residents, Arizona has a large and local market for our wine. In addition, the various wine growing regions within the state attract people from the metropolitan areas to enjoy an authentic, local, world-class Arizona product and experience.