Arizona Wines 101

Discover the regions and vineyards making Arizona a must stop for wine lovers.

The wine industry in Arizona is rooted in the 1600s, but only recently has the state's scene found acclaim with varietals native to Italy and Southern France.

Multiple wine regions span the Grand Canyon State, forming trails not meant for hikers but for oenophiles. Come along for a tour of the three main areas putting Arizona on the viticulture map, along with some of the wineries that make them worth exploring.

Harvest at Bonita Springs Vineyard in Willcox, Arizona
Bonita Springs Vineyard, Willcox (Credit: An Pham)

The Verde Valley

With its National Geographic-worthy red sandstone formations and purported mystical energy vortexes, Sedona is one of the epicenters of Arizona tourism. Turns out the hotspot is part of a larger network of northern towns whose volcanic soil and mild winters provide ideal conditions for cultivating Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon—and not the second-rate kind of grapes that wind up in a cheap grocery store party-in-a-box.

More than a decade ago, the Wall Street Journal recognized the region as a potential "Little Napa." Today, Sedona and the neighboring towns of Cottonwood, Jerome, Clarkdale and Cornville—collectively known as the Verde Valley—are home to a handful of vineyards and a dozen tasting rooms.

Find it: The longest of Arizona's three primary wine-growing trails, this drive spans about 12 miles. Its epicenter is Cottonwood, approximately 19 miles southwest of Sedona along Hwy 89A.

Alcantara Vineyards – Cottonwood

Co-founder Barbara Predmore's Under the Tuscan Sun fantasies brought her to the confluence of Oak Creek and the Verde River, where she and her husband Bob planted more than 13,000 vines encompassing a dozen grape varietals.

"The rocky limestone soil and sunny climate in the Verde are very similar to the winemaking regions of France and Italy," Predmore notes on the winery's website, "and after two years of experimentation the results are everything we hoped for and then some."

Alcantara's on-site tasting room is a pit stop for local kayakers. Pop in wet or dry for a sampler of five wines.

Caduceus Cellars – Jerome

Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, who moved to Arizona in 1995, said the "mystical" terrain around Sedona inspired him to plant a vineyard. "Most of those I shared this vision with just sort of nodded and secretly hoped I would stay on my meds," he quips on the Caduceus Cellars website.

The winery and Keenan's associated Merkin Vineyards focus on Spanish and Italian varietals grown at high elevations on the slopes of Jerome's southeast-facing hills, producing 4,500 cases annually. Open daily—yes, even on Christmas—its Main Street tasting room offers glasses of cheekily named vintages such as Merkin's Chupacabra Rosa and Shinola.

Page Springs Cellars – Cornville

Located less than 20 minutes south of downtown Sedona, Page Springs Cellars offers a taste of the luxe tourist town with a more wallet-friendly, rural feel. The area's climate is similar to that of the Mediterranean and the soil is alkaline, lending itself naturally to Rhône-style varietals including Traminette and Syrah.

On the weekends, adults can tour part of the five-and-a-half-acre estate vineyard planted in 2003 by winemaker Eric Glomski. Relaxation options for guests include yoga and a chair massage among the vines.

Verde Valley Wineries

Alcantara Vineyard

What started as a dream venture created by Barbara and husband Bob, Alcantara Vineyards has grown to over 20,000 vines and an offering of 17 different varietals. Sip wine and enjoy the…

Caduceus Cellars

Bonus: From 8 a.m. to noon every day, you can order traditional, Italian-style Espresso drinks while you browse the selection of imported and local-made food items at the small in-store "Merkin Marketplace."

Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room & Osteria

Merkin Vineyards Osteria reflects a simple grassroots approach to Italian country food inspired by regional ingredients. Our menu includes salads, pasta, an antipasti selection featuring an assortment of imported meats and cheeses…

Page Springs Cellars

Page Springs is a family. We love what we do and are committed to constantly challenging ourselves to do it better. And at the center of this all is our wineΓÇöthe expression…


Desert soil isn't exactly conducive for growing—saguaros, Joshua trees and other spiny death hazards notwithstanding. Perceptions of Willcox's barren land changed in the 1980s and '90s when entrepreneurial vintners realized the cattle town's warm desert climate, high elevation, and sandy soil provide "terroir" similar to that in Argentina and Southern France.

Today, around three-quarters of the grapes grown in Arizona come from Willcox and the surrounding Sulphur Springs Valley. Vineyard owners have capitalized on the area's growing reputation by setting up shop in the center of town, making for highly walkable wine tasting tours.

Find it: Take exit 340 off of I-10 and head for the accessible cluster of tasting rooms on Railview Ave.

Keeling-Schaeffer Vineyards

Technically, the roots of Keeling-Schaefer are in California. After grafting, established vines are then shipped to Arizona for planting a year later. More than 20 of Keeling-Schaefer's wines have been rated by Wine Spectator, with three scoring an 89 (one of the highest ratings for an Arizona wine).

While the home field is in Pearce, 41 miles from Willcox, tastings are held in the historic 1917 Willcox Bank and Trust building. Founder Rod Keeling and his wife Jan actually lived in that tasting room while their vineyard villa was under construction.

Wilcox Wineries

Keeling-Schaefer Vineyards

Established in 2000, Keeling Schaefer is one of Arizona's most recognized winemakers. Our wines have been featured in Arizona Highways, The Arizona Republic, and The Wall Street Journal, and they are some of the highest-scored Arizona wines by Wine Spectator and At our tasting room, located in the historic 1917 Willcox Bank and Trust building, we serve all of our wines, even limited releases, for $7 and include a commemorative glass -- or $5 with your own glass or one from our glass program partners (see website for details).

Golden Rule Vineyards — Willcox

Experience our Arizona wine with guided tastings and pairings designed to provide you with the utmost in flavor and balance. Sample a variety of white wine, rosé wine, and medium to full-bodied red wines. While here, don't forget to sample Cochise Groves pistachios, a great accompaniment to the wine list. Receive a 10% discount off their tasting if you bring in a glass from another Willcox Wine Country member winery.

Pillsbury Wine Company — Willcox

Pillsbury Wines are a true product of the American Southwest. Since 2006, Pillsbury has offered nearly 20 varieties of wine, including reds, rosés, whites and Rhônes, such as the 2017 Malvasia that won the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Awards' "Best of Class." If visiting our southern tasting room on the 100-acre Pillsbury Wine Company estate, just a few miles southeast of Willcox, Arizona, we encourage you to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy with your wine. (Send us an email if you'd like to schedule a visit to the vineyard!) We are an authorized Harvest Host RV site. For more information, visit

Aridus Wine Co. Willcox Tasting Room

Explore the difference between exceptional wines made from unique grapes produced in an award-winning sustainable winery. Surrounded by majestic mountains, the beauty of this modern rustic style winery is just as stunning as the wines it produces.

By procuring prized grapes from Arizona, New Mexico, and California, Winemaker Lisa Strid blends the essence of exceptional terroir ranging from the desert to the California coast. Using cutting-edge winery equipment, we handcraft complex and balanced wines that express the aromatic profile of what can only be made in Arizona.

Club Members have complimentary tours for up to 4 people, while non-club members have a fee of $30 each that includes a winery tour and barrel tasting.

Bodega Pierce — Willcox Vineyard and Tasting Room

Bodega Pierce highlights wines made exclusively from the 17 varieties of grapes grown at the family's estate vineyard in Willcox. The wines are designed to express the high desert terrior of the Willcox Bench that they have found to be unsurpassed in producing spectacular world class wines

Sonoita / Elgin

Sonoita, Arizona's first designated American Viticultural Area (AVA)—the other being Willcox—is at the top of its game, along with its tiny neighbor, Elgin (population 161). Grapes flourish at elevations of 4,500-5,000 feet here, making for some of the highest vineyards in the country.

The terrain is high desert grassland, which seems a poor fit for planting. But after soil scientist Dr. Gordon Dutt conducted a vineyard study here in 1973 and later opened a commercial winery, vintners flocked to the mountainous area for its Sonoma-esque growing temperatures and water-retaining soil.

Find it: Set between Sonoita and Elgin, just off Highway 82, this wine trail is made up of about a dozen vineyards and tasting rooms, with several in walking distance along Elgin Rd.

Callaghan Vineyards

When the POTUS drinks your wine, you know you're fermenting with the big boys. Callaghan vino has made guest appearances at White House events including a Clinton dinner and former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement.

"Our winemaking approach is decidedly simplistic—no gizmos, lots of barrels (new to four years old), aging on the lees, and little racking," founder Kent Callaghan says. On-site tastings are equally no-fuss yet elegant; stop in on the weekend for a tasting (crystal glass included), and you'll likely meet Callaghan in the flesh.

Dos Cabezas Wineworks

Two heads are better than one—or in this case, two vineyards are better than one. The dry, fruity reds and mild whites of Dos Cabezas come from dual growing parcels: Pronghorn Vineyard in Elgin and Cimarron Vineyard in the Kansas Settlement near Willcox.

The Sonoita tasting room is rustic and homey, with past pours ranging from a deep red to a funky, sparkling pink wine served in a can. The latter's rosy label design is taken from a painting by Leonard Bianco, whose son Chris owns Phoenix's award-winning Pizzeria Bianco.

Sonoita-Elgin Wineries

Callaghan Vineyards

Since 1990, this family-owned vineyard has been crafting award-winning wines, earning accolades for its rich, complex red and white wines -- even being served in the White House on three separate occasions. Mediterranean and Spanish varietals -- Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Grenache -- are the basic building blocks for their red blends, while Viognier and Riesling are blended for their estate white wine. Just one hour south of Tucson, it's a short trip to Callaghan Vineyard's tasting room and 25-acre vineyard.

Dos Cabezas WineWorks

Making great Arizona wines since 1995, Dos Cabezas produces Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Viognier varietals, among many others. Visit our tasting room to taste a selection of our current wines. Or book a room at our nearby Casa NextDoor or Casita NextDoor for a fuller experience. Visit our website for more information.

Rune Wines

Award-winning wine and a view that can’t be beaten!

Visit Arizona's only off-grid solar-powered winery and tasting room in Sonoita, Arizona, just 30 minutes from Sierra Vista, 1 hour from Tucson, and 2.5 hours from Phoenix.

The Rune tasting experience is like no other. Weather allowing, we primarily taste outside under a shade canopy where you can enjoy panoramic 360-degree views of the surrounding mountain ranges and high desert grasslands.

A wine tasting includes between 5 and 6 samples for $18 if you take a souvenir wine glass home, or $13 if you bring a wine glass from a local winery. Glass pours and bottles are also available for purchase.

We’re just 7 minutes east of the Sonoita Crossroads. Find us between mile markers 39 and 40 on the south side of Highway 82, at the crest of the hill. Look for our "Rune" flags and metal building.

Los Milics Winery and Vineyards

Los Milics Vineyards is beautifully located at the base of The Biscuit in Elgin. They are open for tastings on the crush pad of the winery where you will most likely meet husband and wife owners Ita and Pavle Milic pouring their wines and sharing their passion as Arizona winemakers.

Pavle Milic is also the co-owner and beverage director at Scottsdale's FnB restaurant.

Begin Your Own Wine Journey

About the Author

Wynter Holden

Wynter is a graduate of Arizona State University's Master of Liberal Studies program and author of more than 700 blogs and articles for Phoenix New Times and PHOENIX magazine. She enjoys eating, drinking and adventuring her heart out for blogs and monthly dining columns.


Cities & Regions

From the abundance of Saguaro cactuses and unique wildlife in the Sonoran Desert to the high country and forests of the White Mountains to the breathtaking Grand Canyon, Arizona’s regions are full of experiences that don’t disappoint.