You say Sonoma, I say Sedona. Mention Arizona and most people envision cactus, not Cabernet. Yet between heat-baked desert basins and soaring mountains, pockets of microclimates exist that echo some of the most famous wine regions of the world. Sedona occupies such an oasis. The Verde Valley’s abundant sunshine and dramatic nighttime cool-downs, combined with rich volcanic soil and a good water source, create an ideal environment for hearty varietals. 

Sedona’s Place in Wine History

Winemaking may seem like a trendy tourism wrinkle in Arizona, but it actually dates back to the late 17th century, when Franciscan missionaries planted the first vineyards in the state. One of Sedona’s earliest settlers got the grape rolling in red rock country. Heinrich Schuerman arrived in Sedona in 1884 and planted an orchard and vineyard. A few years later he was selling apples, peaches and wine to the logging camps of Flagstaff and the miners in Jerome. Today, a handful of estate vineyards dot the hillsides just outside of town. Oak Creek inspires a lush greenbelt along the sloping flanks of House Mountain, and it’s easy to forget that you’re anywhere near a desert. 

wine photos from JW porch_framed.jpgGrapes, like people, need to overcome a little adversity to develop true character. If everything comes too easy for them, they simply grow up to be grapes. Maybe they get a chance to pursue a career as jelly, juice or raisins, but that’s as far as they go. Yet, under the right conditions, grapes can mature into fine wine. Sedona and the Verde Valley offer the ideal location and climate to develop award-winning wines. 

The serenity of Sedona today belies its violent past when fierce volcanoes towered over the landscape. What remains is a layer of rich volcanic soil blanketing hillsides above the creeks and streams providing exquisite settings for vineyards. Dramatic temperature swings – warm days and cool nights – coax the complexity and intense flavors from the small fruit. These are the traits coveted by winemakers who then work their magic. 

Juniper Bar  GrilleCheersframed.jpgThanks to the burgeoning wine industry, visitors can spend languid afternoons exploring lush vineyards just outside of town. Tasting rooms pour Syrahs, Zinfandels, Chardonnays and more. Restaurants proudly stock an array of local wines to pair with meals – full-bodied reds and lean crisp whites. Most important of all, everything slows down for good wine. You stop and taste and savor. Wine gives you permission to relax. It keeps you in the moment. And sitting in Sedona with a glass raised, toasting a vibrant sunset, is exactly the kind of moment to hold onto ever so tight. 

Locally Owned, Locally Grown

One of the beauties of the Sedona wineries is that they’re all small-production facilities. So what you experience are the passions of the winemakers. Every bottle has been doted over. Local wines can be found in stores and on the menus of restaurants throughout the area. Better yet, go Napa Valley-style, and enjoy a personal wine tour at one of these idyllic places. Visit the vineyards and try the tasting rooms. If you’re concerned about driving, several companies offer tours. You can travel by limo, jeep and even kayak. Grapes have discovered what everyone else already knew: Sedona is the perfect place to grow and flourish and to become the best possible version of themselves they can become.

Sampling Celebration

Visitors can check out area wineries at the 6th Annual Sedona Winefest, September 27–28, 2014, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sedona Airport. We invite you to enjoy scrumptious Sedona cuisine, live music, vendors galore and an exclusive Premium Wine Area, while enjoying the breathtaking panoramic views of the majestic red rocks. To plan your next trip to Sedona, visit www. VisitSedona.com

(Brought to you by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, (928) 282-7890, www.VisitSedona.com.)