One of Arizona’s fastest-growing emerging wineries is Los Milics Vineyards.
In describing the Sonoita-Elgin wine region of Arizona (about an hour south of Tucson), Pavle Milic says, “The ascent to Sonoita’s average elevation of 5,000-feet calms the spirit and pleases the soul. It’s a feeling of leaving the hustle and bustle of the city and the monotony of an Interstate behind. The road is a winding, undulating two-lane highway redolent of a time past, with scattered ranches and native ocotillos pointing toward the eternal expanse of our Arizona skies.”
Pavle, with Colombian and Yugoslavian roots, is co-owner and Beverage Director at FnB restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale. His journey into Arizona wine started when he and business partner Charleen Badman wanted to bridge the gap between the locally sourced menu and beverage program.
The decision to showcase Arizona wine was a stepping stone for Pavle and his wife Ita to get to know top Arizona winemakers and the wine community. In 2014 they collaborated with Kelly and Todd Bostock of Dos Cabezas Wineworks to create their own label, Los Milics. After a few years under the Bostocks’ tutelage, their skills as winemakers developed.
Pavle and Ita dreamed of having their own vineyard and winery in the distant future. A serendipitous moment at FnB one evening connected the Milics with Mr. and Mrs. Garfinkle, customers at FnB. Pavle poured the Garfinkles Los Milics’ wine, and almost immediately the Garfinkles were interested in becoming business partners to launch a winery, accelerating Pavle and Ita’s dream.
The partnership of the two families’ winery was established in 2019, catapulting Los Milics Vineyards to its current size of 12 planted acres in Sonoita and 13.5 planted acres in Elfrida an hour east, with plans of acquiring and planting much, much more acreage.
Los Milics' future plans include a vineyard tasting room (renderings are in the winery), casitas for overnight stays and a restaurant. Pavle is passionate about the vision, surrounded by vineyards, blending and reflecting the mountainous landscape.
Ita had a winery internship in her native Chile and also took courses in viticulture from the University of Sacramento. Most of her winemaking education has been hands-on with the Bostocks during harvest, but she also credits Lisa and Kent Callaghan of Callaghan Vineyards for inspiration and guidance. Ita’s previous career as a lab technician prepared her for the technical side of winemaking. She continuously learns from the vineyard workers, as well as other winemakers in their community.
Drawing a parallel between her vineyard duties and her role as a mom, Ita says, “It’s like you plant it, you see them grow. And then you have issues. And then you come back again, and, ‘Oh, I love you.’ Then you see how this vine grows. You put your hands on them, and you see them growing. It’s very beautiful. That for me is the romantic part. Then you work hard, and it’s not that romantic.”
When asked what he likes most about having his own vineyard and winery, Pavle says, “How hard it is. And how sweet it is when after all the hard work . . . it yields a story. Magic in a glass.”
He desires to always have a beginner's mindset and to always continue to learn. Speaking about what he would like to see about the future of Arizona wine, “It's happening. We are walking to our beat. But more importantly, for us, it’s to be proud of who we are and to continue to focus on always doing things better, without losing sight of who we are—not who we're supposed to be.”
Grape varieties grown in Elgin and Elfrida include Vranac, Teroldego, Tannat, Petit Manseng, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Malvasia Bianca, Carignan, Tempranillo, Graciano, Syrah, and Monastrell. With 2021’s projected volume of 5000 cases, the current wines produced are Ita's Rosé, Hannah's White, Renato's Tempranillo Blend, Lorenzo's Tempranillo, Oliver's Syrah Blend, Stephanie's Monastrell, Mo's Graciano, and Betty's Grenache.
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 Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You will most likely meet Ita and Pavle pouring their wines and learn first-hand about their passion as Arizona winemakers.
About the Author
Jenelle’s true passion is photographing and documenting the beauty of Arizona’s vineyards and the stories behind the wine industry. She recently published a coffee-table book, AZ Uncorked, The Arizona Wine Guide. Her photography has appeared in numerous regional and national publications. Read more on arizonawineguide.com
The book AZ Uncorked, The Arizona Wine Guide, is available at: arizonawineguide.com