Sam Pillsbury: Treat Your Wine Tasting Room with Respect

Categories: Wine

Patti Fedler
A comment overheard recently:

'If it looks like a Bar, sounds like a Bar, it is a Bar.'

It's hard enough to grow and plant wine grapes in Arizona, or anywhere for that matter, and fortunately this is not a majority opinion, but I beg to differ.

Let me explain about the gap between these two statements above...

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There are people who described a certain painting as made by a dog vomiting on a piece of canvas.

I think it was a Jackson Pollock.

I pour wine for people who have spent a lot of time in a bar: they clutch the crystal stemmed wine glass by the bowl, chuck the fluid down their throats, sigh and declare their opinion. It's called 'chug.'

A bar is a place where you go to drink. Ok...socialize, eat, listen to music, pick someone up...I'm not knocking bars. But there is a big difference.

You basically go to a place to drink a canned beer or a whisky made by someone else from somewhere else, the stuff arrives in a big truck, which then takes the money back away to somewhere else. And the state gets a nice chunk of that change. That's pretty much an end to it.

A place where you can try locally grown and made wine is another story.

You can chug a bad wine. In fact, you have to. But if it's a good wine, you'll be missing out on sensual pleasure.

Hence, 'Madam, you're missing out...'

Here's what I like to tell her...

Hold the glass by the stem. This is so you don't warm the wine. Now hold it up to the light...that's because sight is 100% of your initial pleasure. That's why restaurants arrange your food on the plate. It's also why you buy a car, but that's another goes away once you taste, but it's a good way to start...anyway, the wine can be hypnotically, magically luminous, the light dancing through the might even give you goose bumps. Enjoy this moment...

Now swirl. More beautiful still, the luminosity, but now you can start to get the aroma. Many great wines exude an intoxicating aroma from the pull of the cork, but this really turbocharges it.

Keep swirling...the light is really dancing in that glass now. Now raise the glass to your nose. The tulip shape of the glass focuses the aroma of the wine to your nose, and the swirl has exposed much more of the surface area of the wine to the air, where the natural elements of the wine, especially the alcohol, release the wine's aromas.

Do it once more. Inhale deeply. Now sip.

Eighty-five percent of taste is smell. So you can immerse yourself in this first tiny sip of a good wine and really wallow in it.

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My Voice Nation Help

I enjoyed your article and would like to let you know that my mother and I had a wonderful experience in your tasting room. The young lady who served us was charming and delightful, and was explicit in her descriptions of your wine.  We left with four bottles and memories of a very pleasant experience.  

Cheryl Cole Hussey
Cheryl Cole Hussey

Sam Pillsbury gets it, and I have a lot of respect for his ingenuity and trailblazing efforts in cultivating this industry in Arizona. Unfortunately, his passion was not portrayed by his representative in the Pillsbury tasting room in Cottonwood on a recent visit. We spent a wonderful day exploring tasting rooms throughout the Verde Valley and the only negative experience we had was with the very brusque, some would say rude, woman attending the bar in his tasting room. She basically slapped several glasses on the counter and rapidly poured the flights with barely two words and absolutely no explanation of what we were tasting. She simply couldn't be bothered. She then disappeared. This was completely contrary to virtually every other experience we had and so we didn't bother to purchase any wine from Pillsbury, but enjoyed adding to our cellars from those who took the time to share their knowledge and passion for their product.


@Cheryl Cole Hussey  

Can you tell me what day and approx time? We have a number of people working for us.



@cchussey Would love to follow up further...can  communicate I with you directly? my email is


@spillsbury  Thank you so much for responding.  It was Saturday, May 4th and it was early afternoon.  There were four of us and of all the places on our list to visit, yours was at the top so it was really an unfortunate occurrence.  I really am a fan of yours and am excited to see the wine evolution in Arizona.

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