Arizona’s Verde Valley wine region

The Verde Valley has long been loved by the hikers and new age seekers that flock to Sedona, as well as the weekend day-trippers that stream into antiques-filled Jerome, Now it is beginning to draw wine tourists as well.

Exploring the Verde Valley wine region

While “vineyard” and “Arizona” may not be words you usually see in close proximity, the state has three wine regions: Verde Valley, Sonoita-Elgin, and Willcox.

The northernmost of these is the Verde Valley wine region, located largely in the rolling hills to the west of Sedona. Here mineralized, slightly alkaline volcanic soils allow growers to produce over 100 varietals.

The Verde Valley wine region is home to seven wineries and eight tasting rooms.

Touring the Verde Valley wineries

The Verde Valley has always had wild grapes. The area’s native population is said to have called the area the Valley of Grapes. Spanish missionaries cultivated grapes, as did early settlers until prohibition. Today it is home to a growing number of vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms.

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We first discovered Verde Valley wines by accident while exploring the hills of Cottonwood, Jerome, Clarkdale, and Cornville. (It’s the area just west of Sedona’s red rock.) The first sign announcing wine tastings seemed like an anomaly. By the third or fourth sign, I figured I needed to check it out. After all, who can argue with research that includes wine?!

We ended up at Javelina Leap Vineyards and Winery that day. A tasting alerted us to the fact that there were some nice wines available here. Nice enough to warrant staying for full glass of our favorites and some tapas.

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Most of the wineries are located around Page Springs, which makes it easy to visit several in a single day.

These are all working wineries. Because some have limited hours or require an advance reservation, don’t count on being able to just drop in while you are in the area. Even at wineries with regular hours you may find there isn’t space in the dining room when you arrive. (Most will find a spot for you to participate in a tasting no matter how busy they are.) Plan ahead and make reservations as necessary.

Alcantara Vineyards

Established in 2002, Alcantara Vineyards is the area’s original winery. Today this family-owned winery has one of the state’s largest vineyards, with over 13,000 vines and 12 varietals. Located south of Sedona between Camp Verde and Cottonwood, visitors can taste a variety of wines produced from grapes grown here and imported from elsewhere.

Alcantara’s tasting room is open daily. Dining options are limited to antipasto and cheese plates. Vineyard and winery tours are available on Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment.

Chateau Tumbleweed

Chateau Tumbleweed is a brand new winery established by two couples with years of winemaking experience at other Arizona wineries. While they only recently purchased their own winemaking facility in Jerome, they’ve been producing their own wines since 2011. Chateau Tumbleweed produces their wines using grapes grown farther south in Arizona’s Willcox wine region.

Chateau Tumbleweed’s winery in Jerome is open Thursday through Monday.

Clear Creek Vineyard and Winery

Clear Creek Vineyard and Winery produces a limited number of carefully crafted wines (mostly reds) from its own grapes. The vineyard’s Rio Claro wines are the result of one man’s long-held dream to produce fine wines. Now, after 12 years of production, this Camp Verde winery has new facilities and is offering regularly scheduled tastings and events.

Clear Creek Vineyard and Winery is open Wednesday through Sunday for wine and chocolate tastings. Tours are available by appointment on Saturdays.

D.A. Ranch

The D.A.Ranch in Page Springs is part historic ranch, part family-owned vineyard, and part event destination. Despite that mix, this vineyard and winery near Sedona seems to take its wine very seriously. Like Clear Creek, all wines produced by the D.A.Ranch are from grapes grown in their own vineyards.

Tastings are available by appointment on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Javelina Leap Vineyards and Winery

Javelina Leap Vineyards is also located in Page Springs. As noted above, this was our introduction to the Verde Valley wine region.

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It was a great introduction, as we enjoyed both the wines and the tapas. We even left with a couple of bottles to share with friends.

Visitors can get a peek at the vineyards, taste a variety of wines, and enjoy a delicious small plate any day of the week. Complimentary tours are available by contacting the winery. Depending on the season, visitors may have a chance to watch a variety vineyard operations and winemaking activities.

Oak Creek Vineyards

Oak Creek Vineyards is located in Cornville, where they have been producing wines since 2002. The vineyard currently has about 4,000 vines of Syrah, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay grapes.

The tasting room is open daily. The Oak Creek websites currently don’t work. Check the Verde Valley wine trail’s web site for more information.

Page Spring Cellars

Page Springs Cellars is located in the Page Springs valley near Sedona. The winery focuses on Rhone style wines produced from grapes grown in their own vineyards and from other Arizona vineyards. The vineyard winery has a tasting room and restaurant with wonderful food. There is also art by a number of very talented local artists on display and available for sale in the winery’s shop. It’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon.

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The tasting room at Page Spring Cellars is open daily. With a menu that includes some delicious small plates, the dining area is often full. Plan accordingly and remain flexible. Wine tours are available on weekends, with reservations recommended.

Visiting Verde Valley tasting rooms

For connoisseurs, wine is all about how the land where the grapes are grown is expressed in the wine. That’s why winery and vineyard visits can be so enlightening.

However, not every Verde Valley winery is set up to welcome visitors at the winery itself.

In addition, a few wineries that produce wine in other parts of Arizona also have tasting rooms in the Verde Valley.

Tasting rooms for wines produced in the Verde Valley

Several tasting rooms feature wines produced right in the Verde Valley,

Arizona Stronghold Vineyards

Owned and operated by Page Springs Cellars, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, has a tasting room in Cottonwood where visitors can sample a selection of wines produced at Arizona Stronghold’s Camp Verde winery. All wines are made from grapes grown around the Willcox area in southeastern Arizona.

The tasting room is open daily, with live music most Fridays. A few small plate options are available to accompany the wines.

Fire Mountain Wines

Native-owned Fire Mountain Wines also has a tasting room in Cottonwood. The winery is located in the Verde Valley, producing wine using grapes grown in southwestern Arizona

The tasting room is located in Old Town Cottonwood. It’s open daily, offering flights and wine and cheese or chocolate pairings.

Burning Tree Cellars

Burning Tree Cellars uses grapes sourced from all over – not just Arizona. It’s unclear to me where the winery is actually located, although it appears to be in Cottonwood.

The tasting room is located in Cottonwood. It is open daily, with live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Southwest Wine Center’s Teaching Winery

Southwest Wine Center’s Teaching Winery Five types of student crafted wines are available for sampling: Viognier, Grenache, Syrah, Merlot and Petite Syrah. Tours of the winery are also available.

The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday afternoons.

Tasting rooms for wines from other parts of Arizona

Several Verde Valley tasting rooms feature wines produced in the Willcox are in southeastern Arizona:

Planning your visit to the Verde Valley wine region

All of the vineyards and tasting rooms in the Verde Valley wine region can be visited as a day-trip from Phoenix.

Visitors staying in Sedona will find several wineries located right outside the city. A few of the wineries are also great spots to enjoy dinner. Check to see about availability before heading out, as dinner tends to be very busy.

If you want to visit a number of wineries on the same day, consider letting someone else do the driving. Tours are available through Wine Tours of Sedona, Arizona Wine Tours, and other companies.

The Verde Valley Wine Trails website provides information on each of the wineries and tasting rooms in the Verde Valley wine region, along with general travel information on the area.

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