Sam Pillsbury Answers the Question: Why Arizona Wine?
None of these places is near a major city. Camp Verde is 100 miles from Phoenix. Willcox where we are is 200 miles. Sonoita is a little closer. I clock 35,000 miles each year.
And one thing...the Monsoon...the one time you don't want rain is at harvest, monsoon season.
We kind of have this one licked. Around ripening we use organic sprays for rot and mold. The soil is sandy loam and drains almost instantly. We trellis with wide rows and prune the clusters with space around them so we get good air flow around the fruit. And the monsoon rains aren't ubiquitous...you can be picking in the sun while across the road there's a tempest under a battleship-shaped thundercloud. And the last 3 years there's barely been a monsoon.
Sure, there's devastation...a bad frost can wipe out a whole vineyard of young buds. Just happened to some neighbors this Spring. We light fires. Some of our neighbors have huge fans, like windmills, but they don't always work, and they are expensive. A hail-storm can wipe out your vines, and has done so. We lost 1700 baby vines three years ago during a super-cold snap in January. But that's farming.
Here's the best part...these conditions make brilliant wines. Our whites are viscous, with bright fruit, aromatic, crisp. Our reds grippingly clean, fragrant, layered, and complex.
And as Chris Bianco says, 'You can taste the struggle.'
Arizona Wine Country. Our Secret Weapon.
Sam Pillsbury has made dozens of documentaries, TV series and feature films in New Zealand and Hollywood as writer, director and producer, and now grows grapes and makes 100 percent Arizona wines in Arizona. He lives in Phoenix. You can get more information about his wines and tasting room at pillsburywine.com.