from the viewpoint of Paula Woosley CSW, Wine Educator & Nationals Sales Manger for Arizona Stronghold & Caduceus Cellars
By Paula Woolsey, contributed to Arizona Vines & Wines
Adj. Suggestive of one that blazes a trail; setting out in a promising new direction; pioneering or innovative.
Trailblazing. When I m traveling around the country introducing people to Arizona Wines, this is my favorite word to use. I feel like a true pioneer when I open up new markets for Arizona wines. I take pride in being one of the few lucky enough to carry the wines from Arizona across our borders.
Having been in Arizona wine industry for the past 17 years, I can honestly say that up until a few years ago the words; quality, terroir, interesting, longevity, sell through, marketable and good, rarely were used to describe a wine from Arizona. This is changing. Our wines are wonderful, they do represent quality, they do express terrior, and they speak about our state in a positive way. We have a unique product to share with the rest of the country that we are proud of. Now you are probably saying. “Paula, its your job, as the National Marketing Manager for Arizona Stronghold Vineyards to say that” and you would be correct. It is my job, but when you have a product that you can genuinely be excited about, it shows, it sells, and buyers everywhere want to get involved.
There is a big wine consuming world out there, and until now Arizona wines have been flying way under the national radar. We all are proud of our vineyards, our wineries, our wines and what we as Arizonans have worked to achieve here in Arizona. But when it comes to introducing our wines to other states, there are some challenges.
The average consumer has probably never heard of wines from Arizona (outside of Arizona). It takes the vision of a few pioneering wine professionals to get the ball rolling. We need people with a voice in their respective wine markets to take a chance on our new product to get the wines into the hands and mouths of the restaurateurs, the sommeliers, the retail buyers, and the consumers. Then, with some luck we will achieve continued support of the Arizona wind industry.
When doubts arise, I like to remind the wine industry folk about a little New Mexico winery called Gruet. I was working for an Arizona distributor back in early 90’s when we were introduced to this new sparkling wine from New Mexico. We were all very doubtful about the future of this lone sparkling wine producer form New Mexico, nobody was selling wine from there, no one ever heard of wines from there.
However, we tried the wines, we loved the wines, we introduced the wines to our markets, and we sold the wines. Guess what? Gruet now sells over a 100,000 cases a year of their wines. You can find these New Mexico wines in almost every state in the country, who knew? The industry trailblazers, that’s who knew!
Although we have only just begun on our journey to national recognition, we are already enjoying great praise. Here’s what some wine industry professionals have been saying:
“While touring the vineyard properties and winemaking facilities with Maynard, Eric and Paula, we immediately understood why this was a special place, capable of producing wines that we could stand on our soapbox and be proud to sell. Ascending the winding roads into the mountains two hours north of Phoenix (near Sedona), we were able to see for ourselves what this team saw in the soils of Arizona. For those of us who once considered Arizona to be marred by desert conditions, too hot and dry for grape vines of any consideration or consequence- take off your blinders and come see for yourselves! These sites are characterized by limestone and volcanic soils, average elevations of 4,000 ft. above sea level and climatic conditions that are conductive to Rhone, Bordeaux and Italian varietals.”
Dan Redman is one of our biggest wine advocates in the state of Texas. He is the owner of Mosaic Wine Group. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan and introducing him to our wines this past March, he was so excited about our wines that he made a trip out to Arizona to see for himself. Above is an excerpt from his wine blog www.mosaicwinegroup.com.
Similarly, food and wine historian, Italian translator and wine writer Jeremy Parzen Ph.D. created his blog “Do Bianchi” to offer readers a humanist perspective into the world of Italian wine and food. Since its creation, he has expanded its coverage to include a wide range of food and wine experiences. We met Jeremy in May, he also wanted to come and see in person what we were up to in Arizona. Below is an excerpt from his blog www.dobianchi.com.
Turned on, tuned in, and dropped out somewhere near Sedona “did I turn on, tune in, and drop out somewhere near Sedona? Have I drunk the Kool-Ail? Did I inadvertently eat the brown acid? I have to confess that I was skeptical: the thought of finding anything less than spoofilated wine in Arizona seemed chimerical. But what I discovered instead was honest winemakers trying to make real wine. The wines I tasted and the people I talked to gave me a lot to thin about. Terroir, I remembered, is not just about soil, exposure, and climate. It’s also about people and what they believe in. Every tradition (and every cult, as it were) has to begin somewhere.”
I could go on and on about what the wine professionals are saying in places like, Chicago, Las Vegas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Florida, Colorado, DC, Maryland, just to name a few. I am pleased to announce that the consensus is the same! Wines from Arizona are being received with excitement throughout the wine industry all over the country. It is a joy and honor to continue with my humble job – trailblazing into new territories, bringing the nation a taste of Arizona!