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Northern Arizona: Sedona and Wine Country

May 12th, 2008-- by Kori Voorhees

When you think of Arizona, wine is probably not the first thing that comes to your mind. However, grape growing actually began there over 400 years ago, pioneers started producing wine in the early 1900’s, and Arizona’s modern wine industry dates back to the 1970’s. Northern Arizona has become the state’s fastest growing wine region. A trip to Sedona and the Verde Valley wine country can be a lot of fun. The best time of year to visit is summer or early fall around the time of harvest. While summer temperatures in Phoenix and much of the state average in the 100’s, temperatures in the wine country are generally considerably cooler.

20080512_sedona.jpgThe city of Sedona is a tourist attraction in itself with its artsy flair and beautiful Red Rock surroundings. It is also located roughly halfway between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon, a 2 to 2 ½ hour drive from each. So depending on how much time you have, your visit to Sedona and Verde Valley can be a trip in itself or part of a larger vacation that includes one of these nearby destinations.

When you arrive in Sedona, two places that you should stop to taste a wide selection of Arizona wines are Made in Arizona Wine and Gifts and Art of Wine. One thing to be mindful of as you begin your Arizona wine tasting is that not all Arizona wines are made from locally grown grapes. If you are truly looking to experience Arizona wines made from Arizona grapes, be sure to ask and then also take a look at the labels on the bottles just to verify that what the salespeople are telling you is correct. However, if you do not care where the grapes come from, just taste away and enjoy them all.

20080512_oakcreek.jpgOnce you have gotten an initial taste of Arizona wines, now it’s time for you to visit a couple Arizona vineyards. Two wineries to visit that both feature wines made from Arizona grapes are Oak Creek Vineyards and Alcantara Vineyards.

Oak Creek Vineyards is a six year old winery with production of about 1,000 cases per year, all sold through their tasting room or ordered by phone out-of-state.

20080512_alcantara.jpgAlcantara Vineyards, a new winery on 87 picturesque desert acres with only 12 acres currently in production, is a must-see. In my opinion, they have the best true Arizona wines. It’s a shame that their production is so small and their wine is only available through their tasting room. This winery has serious potential.

So whether you are looking for a vacation destination with a wide variety of activities or just want to check out a relatively unknown wine producing region, consider Northern Arizona, particularly Sedona and the surrounding Verde Valley wine country.

If You Go:

Phoenix is the closest major airport. Sedona and the Verde Valley are approximately 115 miles north of Phoenix. Take I-17 North towards Flagstaff. Then take exit 298 for AZ-179 North towards Sedona. And finally, turn left onto AZ-89A which is the main thoroughfare through Sedona.

Lodging: There are a variety of options in Sedona. Or you can stay in Phoenix and make a day trip to Sedona.

Wineries and tasting rooms to visit:
Made in Arizona Wine and Gifts, Oak Creek Marketplace, 235 N. Hwy 89A, Sedona, AZ, 928-282-0707, open 10am-7pm daily, $12 tasting fee (includes take-home logo glass).
Art of Wine, The Shops at Pinon Point, 101 N. Hwy 89A #B-9, Sedona, AZ, 877-903-9463, open Sun-Thurs: 10am-6pm and Fri-Sat: 10am-8pm, $15 tasting fee.
Oak Creek Vineyards, 1555 Page Springs Rd, Cornville, AZ, 928-649-0290, open 11am-5pm daily, $5 tasting fee. Directions from Sedona: Travel south on 89A towards Cottonwood. Turn left onto Page Springs Rd. Continue for 3 miles. Oak Creek will be on your left.
Alcantara Vineyards, 7500 E. Alcantara Way, Verde Valley, AZ, 888-569-0756, open 11am-5pm daily, $8 tasting fee (includes take-home logo glass). Directions from Sedona: Travel south on 89A towards Cottonwood. Turn East on Hwy 260 and travel southeast about 8 miles. Turn North on Thousand Trails and take it to the gate of Thousand Trails Resort, turn left onto Alcantara Way and follow the dirt road to the gate.

Other things to do in the area: There are many outdoor activities available including hiking, biking, horseback riding, and hot air ballooning. Sedona is also known for its arts and culture with many art galleries and unique shops.

Tags: Kori Voorhees · United States - Other

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