Napa Valley Wine Academy announces a class on Arizona wines to be conducted by Lisa Strid (rhymes with ‘steed), winemaker for Aridus Wine Company, based in Willcox, Arizona. In a recent article on the wine website Sevenfifty by GuildSomm writer Jessica Dupuy, Arizona was characterized as “while most often associated with cactus-riddled vistas and images of the old West, in recent years, it’s been enlivened with the glimmer of excellent wine."
If you’re interested to see what all the talk is about when it comes to American wines made around the country, then this is a class to take: it is the first of a visiting winemaker series that the Napa Valley Wine Academy is offering. The Wines of Arizona will be conducted on Tuesday, July 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Napa Valley Wine Academy, 2501 Oak Street in Napa. Cost is $20 per person and can be purchased athttps://napavalleywineacademy.com/product/napa-visitors-series-a-taste-of-arizona/ .
Nine wines will be tasted, from Aridus Wine Company as well as from Chateau Tumbleweed, Sándor Vineyards and Four Tails Vineyard. This is a rare opportunity to taste wines made from the high altitude desert climates of southeastern Arizona, including wines from all of the state’s major growing regions. Learn about what makes the state and each region unique, how Arizona fits into the national and international wine conversation, and some possible directions the state’s wine industry may head in the future. The class will taste ten wines Strid has chosen to illustrate various aspects of Arizona winemaking. “Photos of desert flora and fauna are highly likely,” she adds, in explaining that her presentation will include slides and photos of vineyards and wineries in Arizona.
One of the wines to be tasted will be from Aridus’ estate vineyard in the Willcox appellation outside the town of Pierce, situated in the Chiricahua Foothills growing region at an elevation of 5,200 feet. At Aridus Lisa makes wines from selected vineyards in New Mexico as well as Arizona. The range of wines she makes include a Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia Bianca, Orange Muscat, Rosé, Mourvèdre, Montepulciano, Tempranillo, Syrah and Graciano.
ABOUT THE NAPA VALLEY WINE ACADEMY
The Napa Valley Wine Academy was awarded the coveted Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s Global Educator of the Year award at the annual WSET awards ceremony in London’s Guild Hall in January 2017. Napa Valley Wine Academy was chosen for this honor out of the WSET’s extensive network of 650+ Approved Program Providers in over 73 countries.
Wine classes include those for consumer enthusiasts such as Wine 101 as well as numerous certification courses for beginners through advanced students and members of the wine industry. Napa Valley Wine Academy offers its own curriculum of programs developed in-house, including SommDay School, a tasting and service sommelier class with Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser, and a sensory analysis course based on Le Nez du Vin, the industry standard kit. Additional professional certifications the NVWA offers include the Italian Wine Professional, French Wine Scholar and Certified Specialist of Wine. In addition, the Academy also has a robust offering of online courses that students can take no matter what their location.
Six Masters of Wine currently instruct and host classes and webinars at the Napa Valley Wine Academy: Peter Marks, Christy Canterbury, Mary Margaret McCamic, Matt Deller, Tim Hanni and Nova Cadamatre.
Hello everyone! As I'm sure you're all aware, Vintage 2018 is just around the corner! I was out at the vineyard two weeks ago to check out how the whites are coming along, and maes sure everything's on track with establishing the Cabernet Sauvignon that was planted last year. I'm pleased to say, everything is looking in fantastic condition. A HUGE shout out to our new vineyard crew (we'll have bios of them coming up soon)!
As many of you know, last year was our first crop from the white side of the vineyard. Thanks to some creative picking on the part of our former crew, it will be coming to you soon as our 2017 Field Blend-- a light, refreshing wine reminiscent of Portugal's Vinho Verde. We put it in bottle just last week, and my god is it decious. I'm so sorry that it isn't released yet, because it's my summer sipper hands down. We're just waiting on labels, but we'll try to get it into your hands as soon as possible.
In the meantime... as of two weeks ago, the grapes were not yet at veraison, but we did have fairly decent and even fruit set with just a bit of shatter (loose clusters with scant berries) on one of our Sauvignon Blanc clones. We have three different clones of SB out in the vineyard, and they each have a slightly different flowering, fruiting and ripening cycle. The shatter is likely a result of a wind event during flowering. The rest of the fruit is coming along nicely, though. I'm heading out to the vineyard again today-- I expect to find that we're fully into veraison by now, so that means it's just a few more weeks before we start bringing fruit in. This year, the only whites we're producing will be off our own vineyard. Get ready for Turkey Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Malvasia Bianca!
A row with the Chiricahua foothills in the background.
A nice looking cluster. Note that the shoot is beginning to lignify (turn woody).
Does anybody know what this insect is? Please e-mail me if you do! I think it's maybe a Filigree Skimmer, but I'm not sure!
It may be a controversial statement, but I will take a glass of Syrah over Cabernet Sauvignon any day of the week. What can I say? Your typical Cab delivers exactly what you'd expect from it, but Syrahs tend to surprise me more. Lucky me-- Syrah tends to grow well here in Arizona, and they are some of my favorite wines from the area.
Syrah probably originates just east of the Northern Rhone Valley in France, as it is the offspring of the relatively obscure varieties Mondeuse Blanche and Dureza, both of which have been grown in the Isere region where a natural cross begat Syrah. And in an interesting turn of a few events, this also makes Pinot Noir the great-grandparent of Syrah, and Viognier likely Syrah's half sibling (the family tree is a little more murky on the Viognier side).
Syrah tends to be a quick-ripening variety, which is actually lucky for us here in Arizona, because we want sugars and tannins to ripen at approximately the same rate, so a grape with speedy tannin ripening is a blessing. Syrah also tends to have soft, plush tannins, which makes it a very approachable wine early on. I love really peppery versions of the wine, but I also appreciate the wild gaminess and ripe to jammy berry notes that Syrah can exhibit. Even in the dead heat of summer, I can't turn down a Syrah.
As of writing this, we have about 60 cases of our 2015 Syrah left, and we have our 2016 Syrah waiting in the wings with no release date set as yet. I like both of these vintages in their own right, with the 2015 skewing a bit more towards a savory brined olive flavor, and the 2016 having a bit more ripeness and tar. Stop by the tasting room if you have a chance to get a taste of the 2015, and be on the lookout for a fall or winter release for our 2016. And by all means, if you open a bottle, invite me over. ;)
Winemaker Lisa Strid has just returned from a three month visit to Australia where she worked a harvest at Kirrihill, a winery in South Australia's Clare.
Here are some questions she’s been answering:
Why were you intrigued to go do a harvest in Australia?
I mostly wanted to learn. The more you expose yourself to different ways of doing things, at different wineries in different regions, the more you learn. Since I jumped right into full-time, year-round winemaking right out of school, I never had the experience of a harvest-hopping endless summer. I’d definitely been itching to make it to the southern hemisphere for a harvest, but the timing hadn’t been right until this year.
What are Kirrihill’s specialties?
Kirrihill is the second largest winery in the Clare Valley, so they produce a whole range of wines, but they’re mostly focused on Riesling (which the region is known for), Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. They do make a few small batch wines – my favorite amongst them being a Nero D’Avola made from fruit sourced from McLaren Vale. Their Peacemaker Shiraz is very nice as well.
What practices were different?
Simply being at a larger scale in a region that’s well established meant that there were a lot of differences to how things are done in Arizona. Nearly all of the grapes brought in were machine harvested. So that means no whole cluster pressing of whites, and no stem inclusion on red fermentation. They had a number of different cap management strategies for the reds – both open and closed top fermenters with automatic pumpovers that could be very easily adjusted and customized on the fly, fermenters with pulsed air systems and rotary fermenters. Because of the sheer volume moving through the winery, it was necessary to get things through fermentation and stabilized as soon as possible, so there weren’t many cold soaks or extended macerations. By the time I left, the regional Riesling we’d made early in the harvest season was ready for bottling.
Also, everything’s measured in a different scale there – not just metric, but also sugars were measured in Baume rather than Brix. So I was doing a lot of mental conversion, especially at first.
What was the most fun while you were there?
I liked getting to know everyone. It was a crew from all corners of the globe, and everyone had such great attitudes.
Do they have harvest customs food-wise?
Not really, but The Sevenhill Pub did a harvest worker special every Wednesday evening – burger and a pint for $20. That’s about $14 USD.
What would Americans be surprised to learn from your ‘immersion’ there?
I didn’t even realize how great the rodeos are here in the US until I went to one there. The Aussies have us beat hands down in things like education, public safety, health care, and quality of life, but our rodeos are way better.
There are also a ton of vehicles with massive bullbars on them, and at first I thought it was because Aussies are all just really into looking like bad asses, but it’s actually functional. It’s so common for kangaroos to jump out into the road, seemingly from nowhere, that it helps to have a bullbar so as not to destroy your car if you can’t avoid hitting one.
Did you have a favorite food?
Were there kangaroos on the crush pad?!
Not on the crush pad, but pretty much everywhere else! I’m an insect collector, and there were tons of giant rain moths - Trictena atripalpis – in the cellar starting in about mid-February.
What are you eager to try as a new technique at Aridus?
I’ll be judiciously incorporating pulsed air into our protocols.
What did the Aussies ask you about life & winemaking in Arizona?
They were curious about the soils and the weather in the region, and wanted to know what varieties did well. I think I forced them to be curious about Mexican food because I talked about it so much.
Did you develop an accent?!
No, but I did ask a co-worker here, “How are you going?” when I got back without even thinking about it.
Hi everyone! Today I'm here to talk about two of the strangest things that are pretty typically added to wines - a clay called Bentonite, and a resious polymer called PVPP, or Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone if you're fancy. Why would we want to add dirt and plastic to wine, you wonder? My gosh, that's an excellent question.
I'll start with bentonite-- at its most basic, it's a negatively-charged clay from Wyoming that swells to sevel times its dry size when wet. Because of this, when it's added to solution it has a very high surface area. It's the high surface area and the negative charge that we're taking advantage of when we use it in winemaking. Believe it or not, grapes contain protein, and when these proteins remain present in the wines made from the grapes. These proteins have a positive charge. End of story if that protein stayed stable in the wine, but unfortunately, protein tends to clump up after a certain amount of time passes, and it can form an unattractive haze in the bottle. It's much more noticeable in white wines than in reds, but certain light red wines may deposit a notable protein haze as well. How do we get rid of it? When we add bentonite into a wine and mix it up, the clay and the proteins will be attracted to one another due to their opposite charges (negative and positive), so the bentonite works to pull the protein out of the wine before it's put into bottle. We'll move the wine off that layer of clay and protein, so none of it is actually carried over into your glass. Don't worry-- you're not going to be drinking any dirt.
And what about PVPP? Well, this polymer is similar to bentonite in that we use it to remove undesirable compounds from the wine. It also swells up in water, increasing surface area, but we're not looking to remove proteins in this case, but polyphenols. Polyphenols are wide range of compounds, and they can do everything from causing certain white wines to turn a pinkish or brownish color, to just making a wine taste too bitter. When we add PVPP, we're doing it in exactly the same way as bentonite - swelling in water, mixing with the wine, and letting it settle out before moving the wine off the sediment.
So the next time you're enjoying a crystal clear white wine, give a little cheer to bentonite and PVPP, two ingredients that just might be the unsung heroes in producing that glass.
Well, it's finally here - the season we've all been waiting for... MELTING TRASHCAN SEASON! (Or as it's known to the non-Arizona portion of the country, Summer.) And that begs the question, what are you doing to beat the heat? I know for my part, I'm busy drinking as much cold white wine in the pool as possible. I've even been known to test out nearly any bottle for it's "Spritz-ability Index," aka, how good it tastes when mixed with seltzer. I have no shame about it. When you can bake cookies on the hood of a car, and touching your sealtbelt results in 3rd degree burns, there's no room for judgement.
So what do we have coming your way here at Aridus to help you cope? I'm here to give you the scoop - some very spritzable wines. Of course, this past Friday we released the latest in our Tank Series, the Tank 19 white blend, a crisp blend of Chardonnay and Malvasia Bianca. Thanks to everyone who came out! Spritz-ability Index: 13/10
On June 15th, we'll be releasing out 2015 Chardonnay. It's a tasty little number with fresh apple notes, and sweet oak aromatics. Spritz-ability Index: 11/10
At the peak of July, on the 20th, we'll be releasing out 2017 Sauvignon Blanc. It's a grapefruit and mango bomb, and especially refreshing. Spritz-ability Index: 14/10
Finally, we're rounding out our summer releases with our 2016 Graciano. Okay, okay - it's not a white wine, not even a rose, but we think this one will be just what you need when the sun goes down and you're working the grill. Spritz-ability Index: 12/10 (try it as a kalimotxo - equal parts cola and wine!)
But OH-HO, what's this? Anyone who lives here knows that it's still hot in September, so here's your bonus sneak preview release... On September 14th, get ready for our 2016 Montepulciano!
Stay cool out there, folks!
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