Near Se­dona’s famed red rocks, a wine trail in Ari­zona

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE / TRAVEL - By YVONNEGONZALEZ in Cornville, Ari­zona

The­fame­dred rocks of Se­dona draw vis­i­tors from around the world. But less than half an hour away from Se­dona’s tourist crowds is an at­trac­tion that might sur­prise out-of-town­ers: Ari­zona’s Verde Val­ley Wine Trail, com­plete with vine­yards tucked into vol­canic rock and lime­stone, with grapevines grow­ing within viewof the tast­ing rooms.

Wine in a state known for desert and heat? Yes, thanks to el­e­va­tions above 914 me­ters and a milder cli­mate than in places like Phoenix, 161 kilo­me­ters away.

Com­mu­ni­ties on the wine trail like Cot­ton­woodand Cornville mainly at­tract stay­ca­tion­ers, in­clud­ing Phoenix res­i­dents look­ing to es­cape to the semi-wilder­ness for aday or two, but the wines made here are pulling Se­dona tourists south through cen­tral Ari­zona’s green land­scapes.

From State Route 89A, Page Springs Road takes you to sev­eral stops along the trail in Cornville. My co-pi­lot and I started with a tast­ing of a 2015 sau­vi­gnon blanc, a 2015 san­giovese and a 2014 tem­pranillo at Javelina Leap Vine­yard and Win­ery, where the own­ers’ son Lu­cas Reed poured and de­scribed his fam­ily’s wine.

The Javelina Leap wines are made mostly from one type of grape at a time, but at our next stop, Page Springs Cel­lars, va­ri­etals share shelf space with blends. The road here cuts a curvy route near House Moun­tain, a vol­cano that erupted mil­lions of years ago leav­ing al­ka­line sub­soils, which Page Springs Cel­lars says are com­pa­ra­ble to France’s South­ern Rhone wine re­gion.

A small drive­way con­nected to a dusty gravel path leads to rows of Page Springs’ grapevines, and so­lar pan­els shade ve­hi­cles from the sun while grenache grapes grow nearby.

Trav­el­ers sip years of lo­cal work here while sam­pling a menu that lists piz­zas, sal­ads and cheeses. Wine­maker Eric Glom­ski, who owns Page Springs with his fam­ily, greeted us at the out­side pa­tio be­fore tour guide Dina Ribaudo took the group through the wine­mak­ing process, start­ing with the vine­yard, pass­ing by a deck that over­looks Oak Creek, and end­ing at the bot­tling sta­tion.

After of­fer­ing sam­ples of a mal­va­sia bianca blend, Ari­zona viog­nier and a Tus­can-style blend, she dipped our glasses into a spring for a wa­ter break. Ribaudo says the spring is named for set­tler James Page and flows at a con­stant 68 de­grees from the Co­conino Plateau, about 80km­north.

Our group sipped a Rhone blend called the 2014 ECIPS — spice spelled back­ward— while walk­ing into a room stacked with bar­rels. After pulling a stop­per from one red-stained cask, Ribaudo si­phoned out our fi­nal sam­ple of the tour, the 2014 Bor­dowie (made mostly from Bordeaux wines). By midafter­noon, the small tast­ing room park­ing lots along Page Springs Road were slightly fuller, with an oc­ca­sional tour group limo among the cars.

The Page Springs Cel­lars own­ers are also be­hind Ari­zona Strong­hold Vine­yards, which has a tast­ing room about 19km away in Old Town Cot­ton­wood. You’ll pass sev­eral tast­ing rooms, restau­rants and shops in the area be­fore Main Street be­comes Broad­way and climbs to­ward the town of Clark­dale.

There, in what used to be a min­ing com­pany town, the Four Eight Wineworks tast­ing room is housed in a for­mer bank where a no­to­ri­ous 1928 rob­bery and shoot­ing took place. This is Ari­zona’s first wine­mak­ers co­op­er­a­tive, a project that stems from Tool singer May­nard Keenan. He’s also be­hind Ca­duceus Cel­lars, which has a tast­ing room about a few kilo­me­ters from Clark­dale in Jerome.

The town of Jerome, pop­u­la­tion over 400, is built into a hill­side about 1.5 km above sea level, marked by a large white J. The for­mer cop­per min­ing site is dot­ted with his­toric prop­er­ties. It has a ghost-town rep­u­ta­tion and creative com­mu­nity of artists. Sur­rounded by restau­rants, shops and gal­leries, a cop­pery chain-link cur­tain leads to the Ca­duceus Cel­lars tast­ing room.

Danielle Vorves, whose busi­ness card bears the ti­tle of wine slinger, poured us sep­a­rate flights of wines with unique names, likeTheDid­dler, ablend of al­barino, mal­va­sia and viog­nierun­dertheCa­duceusCel­lars Merkin Vine­yards la­bel.

Al­to­gether the Verde Val­ley WineTrail in­cludesabout­seven winer­ies and eight tast­ing rooms. We vis­ited three in a half-day and ended our visit with a viewat JeromeS­tateHis­toric Park that stretched for miles, of­fer­ing a vista of canyons and peaks in the Ari­zona wilder­ness.

AP

The Ca­duceus Cel­lars tast­ing room in the for­mer cop­per min­ing town of Jerome, Ari­zona, is sit­u­ated along a line of shops, gal­leries and restau­rants.

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