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Arts & Culture Bars & Nightlife Featured Food, Restaurants & Dining Travel, Shopping & Leisure Fara Illich January 21, 2010

By random accident I discovered my latest passion: Arizona wine. If you’re thinking that Arizona cannot grow grapes or produce wine, then you are doing what experts call “making a mistake.” Imagine for a moment that you are part of a small wine producing community making great wine but that the wine drinkers of the world, people concerned with only names and regions, brush your product aside with a grimace. Of course I’m describing the early days of Napa Valley, which is today a well respected wine producing region. Arizona wine is still fairly new and unknown in the wine world, but is receiving positive attention and acclaim from those daring to venture into new wine territories.

Urban Grocery evening 11-11-09I’m not a wine connoisseur by any means (I prefer Miller Lite or a bottle of whiskey) but I know what I don’t like, and I generally do not prefer red wine. But while shopping in the Phoenix Public Market, I noticed a pretty extensive wine collection and started asking questions: “Where are the Arizona vineyards?”, “What wine does Maynard [the lead singer of the band Tool] make?”, “Does Arizona make white wines?”, “How much does a bottle cost?”, and “Can I try some?”

I was treated to a wine tasting, during which I transformed into a wine snob because I’ll only drink wine made in Arizona from now on. The flavor was rugged and rustic and bold and tasted like everything I love about this state: wide open spaces, the blue sky, extreme temperatures of cold and hot, breathtaking terrain, and an overwhelming variety of beauty and color. I really liked the Arizona Stronghold and bought two bottles of red wine, one called Magnus and the called Nachise.

Arizona has so much potential in so many ways, and the future of wine production in this state is looking good. This spring I’m going to check out a few of the wineries up north and down south to support and explore this local industry. Before you dismiss Arizona wines as some quaint little experiment in futility, stop by the Public Market and have a little taste test. You’ll be surprised and discover something new and exciting.