Oftentimes when people think of Arizona, the image depicted is one filled with cacti and arid landscapes that stretch for miles under the extreme desert heat. However, the state possesses three wine producing regions, each with its own micro-climate and terroir. These regions include the areas of Sonoita, Willcox and the Verde Valley, but only Sonoita and Willcox have an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation. Pillsbury Wines are produced in Cochise County where the vines are planted in the elevated loamy soils of southeastern Arizona. Here, the land has been violently transformed over eons through the ebb and flow of ancient seas, volcanic eruptions and tectonic activity. Fortunately, these ferocious geological events left behind a rugged, beautiful landscape as well as excellent earth for planting vines.
At Pillsbury, some of the varietals include Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, Riesling as well as others from the Rhône Appellation. Many of the award-winning bottles are blends of different varietals, however Pillsbury also produces single-grape wines. For instance, Pillsbury uses the wholly American varietal Symphony and turns it into one of the vineyard’s most celebrated single-grape wines. The winery also creates a wine that is 100% Malvasia Bianca, another extraordinary example of using only one varietal combined with the unique characteristics of the land and the hands that produce it.
The man behind the wine is Sam Pillsbury, an American raised in New Zealand with a wide array of talents, from filmmaker and screenwriter to mechanic and viticulturist, the term Renaissance man hardly fits the description. Since 2000, Sam has worked the fields and vineyards of Cochise County, and after selling some property within the coveted Willcox Bench Vinicultural Area, he opened Pillsbury Wines in 2006. Since then, Pillsbury has developed wines that display the delicate features and characteristics of the soil in Cochise County to the delight of many judges, connoisseurs and oenophiles from all over the world.
Visitors can try these award winning wines at Pillsbury tasting rooms in Willcox and in the quaint town of Cottonwood, Arizona. The Willcox winery is located in rural Arizona far away from any urban centers, however the winery and wines themselves definitely merit a visit. Travelers in Sedona can take a short trip over to the Cottonwood tasting room. Find out why Pillsbury Wine has garnered such a stellar reputation over the years as one of the Arizona’s best wineries!