When you think of wine, Arizona is far from the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, unless you’ve traveled to visit an Arizona winery there is a good chance you’ve never even tasted any. Even at grocery stores in the area, it’s not all that easy to find unless you know where to look. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and only just had my first taste of Arizona wine quite recently.
My family was in town from Japan and we ended up taking a road trip up to Sedona so they could see the sites. After hiking up Cathedral Rock and visiting Slide Rock State Park, we took to the city to spend our last few hours before heading back to the valley. Since we were all hungry after our day of hiking, we found the perfect restaurant that set the mood of Sedona, the Cowboy Club. I’m always looking to try new foods and so we ordered rattlesnake as an appetizer and for my main course, I had buffalo with mashed sweet potatoes and what may have been the best asparagus I’ve ever had. By now you’re probably wondering, “What about the wine?” Well. . .I was very tempted to order wine with dinner, but I opted not to. As it turns out, that was a decision I would not end up regretting.
After we finished dinner, we started moseying around Sedona. The first place we ended up was the shop right next door to the Cowboy Club, Made in Arizona. As soon as I walked in and saw the wine tasting counter, I was immediately glad I hadn’t decided to order wine with my dinner. Not knowing what to expect, I stepped up to the counter and started my first experience with Arizona wine. I tried several wines and there were two in particular that really stuck out to me. The first was the Kokopelli Chardonnay. But the one that really blew me away was the cabernet sauvignon from Freitas Vineyards.
Now when it comes to a good cab, I’m accustomed to the big bold cabs out of Napa. I do enjoy them, especially with steak, but at times I think the boldness can be a little much. When I took a taste of the Freitas cab, I was expecting that familiar bold cab flavor. But what I got was a complete surprise. It was still very much a cab, but without being so in-your-face. For me, it is the perfect balance.
Now the bad news is that there are only a few select places you can buy this wine, even here in the valley where select stores stock local wine I’ve found it impossible to find. While writing this article, I naturally had to find out and it turns out it is available at a few select stores in Sedona, AZ (a great place for a nice weekend getaway) or you can order it from Vino Di Sedona, their official tasting room. When you do get your hands on a bottle, you will definitely be glad you did.