Have a Grape Time at Arizona’s Wineries

Sedona AOT Shoot

By Tom Mackin | Photo courtesy of Page Springs Cellars

While it may not be the first place you think of when it comes to wine, Arizona has more than 80 licensed wineries. Located primarily in the Verde Valley area near Sedona and the Willcox area southeast of Tucson, Arizona wineries have produced award-winning varietals. Combine some distinctive vineyard settings with various tasting rooms in Scottsdale, and meeting groups can participate in fun experiences throughout the state. Here is a sampling to whet the palate for your next meeting.

Northern Arizona

ALCANTARA VINEYARDS

Alcantara Vineyards in Cottonwood can host groups of up to 150 people and offers vineyard tours, wine tastings, lunches and dinners. You can even float your way to the vineyards via kayak! Known as “Water to Wine,” the 1.5- mile guided kayak journey takes you down the Verde River and back to the vineyard, which opened in 2005. Reflecting the water theme, a suggested red to try is the Confluence, named for the Verde and Oak Creek Rivers that meet on the property; a recommended white is the Viognier. alcantaravineyard.com

JAVELINA LEAP VINEYARD

Offering 12 different varietals, but perhaps best known for its Zinfandel (and chocolate truffles made from scratch), this vineyard 10 miles from the center of Sedona offers spaces for groups of up to 125. Those include Mesquite Grove Park, The Arizona Room, The Crush Pad (where the wines are made) and the Vineyard Estate House. An executive chef is available to create customized meals, while private tours that cover the wine making and grape growing process are also available. javelinaleapwinery.com

PAGE SPRINGS CELLARS

Known for Southern Rhone varietals (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre), Page Springs Cellars offers two-hour vineyard tours (12 people or less) and 30-minute private-event tours or 90-minute wine production tours, which allows participants to try wine from a selected barrel. Located 30 minutes from Uptown Sedona, the vineyard’s rustic setting includes multiple outdoor venues set along Oak Creek. A large vineyard deck seats up to 75 people overlooking the first vineyard planted in 2004, while dinners for up to 50 can take place inside a barrel room (dinners have seasonal availability). The Crow’s Nest, an annex to the vineyard deck, is used for groups of up to 10 for meetings or private tastings and lunch with founder Eric Glomski, staff members or a guest expert. pagespringscellars.com

Scottsdale

ARIDUS WINE COMPANY

With one of the largest portfolios of any Arizona winery, Aridus has 30 different wines (with more being added) that can be sampled at a tasting room in Old Town Scottsdale. Their conference room has walls lined with 7,000 wine bottles and seating for up to 15 people at a private tasting and/or dinner provided by local caterers. The space can also be used for parties of up to 75 people. A second tasting room is located in Willcox (90 minutes southeast of Tucson) where tours of the crush facility and group events for up to 25 are available. ariduswineco.com

CARLSON CREEK VINEYARD

A tasting room in Scottsdale can host groups of up to 90, with space rentals of the main tasting room and an education room available in one-hour, two-hour and four-hour blocks. A sommelier can conduct 45-minute “Wine 101” classes, blind tastings and wine blendings. While the vineyard’s wines are produced three hours south in Willcox, the Scottsdale tasting room offers the award-winning 2014 Riesling and 2013 Rule of Three, which have previously been voted the top dessert wine and top Rhone blend respectively at the Arizona Grand Wine Festival. carlsoncreek.com

SU VINO WINERY

In the heart of downtown Scottsdale you’ll find Su Vino Winery, which imports 25 different wines from Arizona, California, Washington and overseas. In addition to group tastings with Wine 101 discussions, groups of up to 32 can also take part in bottling parties. Participants taste the wine, wash the bottle, fill it and cork it before a custom label (with a company logo) is applied. Everyone can receive their own bottle. suvinowineryaz.com

Southern Arizona

PILLSBURY WINE COMPANY

New Zealand native Sam Pillsbury and his team produce 22 wines at his namesake winery, most notably a Rhone Red and Chardonnay. A tasting room with room for up to 88 people is located in Cottonwood, just south of Sedona. At the 100-acre vineyard in Willcox, 90 miles southeast of Tucson, outdoor gatherings and events inside a private home are available, as are tours of the crush pad, where “all the magic happens” during the winemaking process. Tastings, food pairings and wine education chats with Pillsbury are available at both locations. pillsburywine.com

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