Pillsbury Harvests Grapes, Wishes for an Early Morning Wine Tasting

Categories: Spillsbury

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courtesy of Sam Pillsbury
"Join our wine-tasting group," Pavle Milic offered as I was delivering wine to FnB, the the Old Town Scottsdale restaurant he runs with Charleen Badman.

I was in. I am so out of practice, and I just don't drink a wide range of wine. I live with my wife, my mother-in-law, and my 7-year-old, and they don't drink wine, so I just don't get the chance very often to try four or five wines (or six or seven or eight or nine) because so much wine will go to waste without a group to share.

"Oh, yeah, I'd love to. I so need to educate my palate."

"It's at 10:30," he replied.

"Great," I answered. "Mid-morning is perfect for me."

"Er, no, Sam, it's 10:30 at night," he replied.

Too bad.

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Wine and the F-word

Categories: Spillsbury

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courtesy of Sam Pillsbury
I always wonder what people are actually doing when they refer to "the F-word."

I mean, they all know what it means. Why don't they just say it? It seems to me to reveal a kind of double-standard. When you are watching one of those clips on the news where a guy streaks across the baseball field or a naked group runs across the beach and into the water, and they blot out the naughty bits, I think to myself, "The whole reason for playing this clip is the fact that people are showing the parts we never see, then they blot out those parts, so what's the point?"

We are all so titillated by this, but we don't have the balls to just come out with it. So to speak.

And what does this have to do with wine? Bear with me.

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Strawberry Wine, Anyone?

Categories: Spillsbury

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courtesy of Sam Pillsbury
Sipping in your Chevy by the levee. The heady fragrance of ripe strawberries, your arm around your babe, the song by Deana Carter on the radio drowning out the trance-inducing nighttime crickets under the full moon.

Why not?

We get asked about fruit wines all the time. A common experience at wine festivals is seeing other wineries rolling out cases of this stuff to enthusiastic drinkers. So, why don't we do them?

First, I am happy for people to drink whatever they choose. However, when asked whether we have any sweet wines, my usual not-very-political response is, "We only make quality wines."

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Terroir, Arizona-Style

Categories: Spillsbury

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Courtesy of Sam Pillsbury
In the South of France, November 2012, the most stunning example of terroir was when we were confronted with the rock-filled vineyards of Chateauneuf de Pape.

Terroir (French pronunciation: ​[tɛʁwaʁ] from terre, "land") is the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology, and climate of a certain place . . .
(Thank you, Wikipedia).

We were on one of those AMAWaterways Wine Cruises (the Danube this year!) with Eric Glomski from Page Spring Cellars and a bunch of Arizona wine fanatics.

It was after harvest, but the grape clusters on these vines would have been hanging 8 to 12 inches above the rock-strewn vineyard.


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Don't Trust Anyone Who Doesn't Drink Wine (Or, Why Sam Pillsbury Hates Surfers)

Categories: Spillsbury

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Courtesy of Sam Pillsbury
It's been established: With airline crashes, it's never one thing. It's usually a combination of three. More on this later.

I love the sea. (Yeah, that's why I live in Arizona.) I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, where it's impossible to be more than 15 minutes from the ocean -- on a small hill you can see both sides of the island.

We spent three weeks every summer sailing the coast in my parents' 32-foot sloop Flamingo. Apart from drinking wine, I windsurf. I body surf. I boogie board. I snorkel for abalone. I dive for scallops. They go really well with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or my WildChild White. I am never so happy as when I am in the ocean. It's my belief that's our amniotic fluid, and when we enter the sea, we connect with where we came from.

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When It Comes to Wine, Bigger Isn't Always Better

Categories: Spillsbury

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Justine Winchester
"Gimme your biggest wine!"

One of the requests I dread the most. I know for sure he just drove up in his
Toyota Tundra Crew Max Double Cab 4x4 Platinum 5.7L V8 FFV ** 6-Speed Automatic. After all, why not drive the biggest, most expensive, most powerful vehicle that will never see a day's honest work in its life?

Because it's the biggest!


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Sam Pillsbury: Treat Your Wine Tasting Room with Respect

Categories: Spillsbury

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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...

See also:
- Sam Pillsbury Turns on New Zealand Wine -- Sort of
- Bottling Wine with Sam Pillsbury & Co.

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Sam Pillsbury Turns on New Zealand Wine -- Sort of

Categories: Spillsbury

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courtesy of Sam Pillsbury
I watched the chef swirl and sniff as I opened the rest of the bottles. I had learned not to expect too much from resorts, and this was one of them. We have really nice relationships with some, but they tend to be too big, run by out-of-state corporations, and not know or care about local wines.... That's surprising because tourists want to try local wines, but it's easier for the food and beverage department to pick up the phone and order everything from one distributor. So the local pickin's can be slim.

This guy seemed different. He was young, wasn't jaded, seemed like he had a brain and a point of view...and a palate....

He sipped. He lit up. "Wow. I know just what to pair this with! What's next?"

See also:
- Sam Pillsbury Spills on the Reason He Landed in Arizona, and Launches a Wine Column for Chow Bella


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Sam Pillsbury Answers the Question: Why Arizona Wine?

Categories: Spillsbury

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courtesy of Sam Pillsbury
Arizona wine country.
Why Arizona wine?

In 2000 -- the year I planted my first vineyard at the end of a lonely, dusty road in Cochise County, 12 miles south of Willcox -- one of the 10 Best 'How to Lose Money' jokes on Saturday Night Live was: Plant a Vineyard In Arizona.

Arizona is all Sonoran Desert, obviously suicidal....

See also:
Sam Pillsbury Spills on the Reason He Landed in Arizona, and Launches a Wine Column for Chow Bella


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Sam Pillsbury Spills on the Reason He Landed in Arizona, and Launches a Wine Column for Chow Bella

Categories: Spillsbury

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courtesy of Sam Pillsbury
Taste test.
This week we introduce a new, occasional wine column by one of the best-known Arizona winemakers, Sam Pillsbury. Welcome to Spillsbury.

When managing editor Amy Silverman asked me to write for Chow Bella and New Times, I had to stop and think how that was going to work. I think that will evolve. I want to excite interest in all Arizona wines. It's my dream that we might all be one big, happy family. To that end I hope to explore our region with my fellow winemakers and growers, and examine what makes us original, different, and sometimes truly excellent!

(Disclaimer: I am no expert. I thought I knew a lot about wine 14 years ago. I now realize I know squat. I just have my opinion.)

So, Amy asked that question people tend to ask: "What is a New Zealand filmmaker doing making wine in Arizona?"

My answer: "Sex."

See also:
- Romancing the Grape: Pavle Milic's Quixotic Wine-Making Adventure
- Wine Smarts: What Is Noble Rot? Brian Reeder and Pavle Milic Hit Scottsdale to See If Anyone Knows

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