Somm Insider Vol. 13 ~ Arizona Wine Collective
Location, location, location. We may never know who actually coined the phrase, but we do know it pertains to prime real estate, and that includes plots cultivated as vineyards and wineries. One of the challenges we face in Arizona (at least in larger cities like Phoenix and Tucson) is proximity to local vineyards. Many of our best vineyards are about two to four hours from the city centers, and believe it or not, many Arizonians don’t even know we make wine–let alone how good they’ve become. Wineries are realizing they need to bring tasting rooms closer to the metropolitan areas.
Pete and Jeanne Snell, owners of Arizona Wine Collective, found a way to make this happen by opening a tasting room in Tucson that carries a plethora of state wines. “This is a great way for people to sample many Arizona wines without having to drive too far,” says Pete. “Additionally, we pride ourselves on selling the winery’s home-run wines, not necessarily the most expensive, but the ones you can’t find in the grocery stores.”
Arizona Wine Collective opened its doors in February of this year and currently carries wines from 15 wineries, with plans of adding one per month. Long-time business owners and wine enthusiasts, they decided to make wine their new adventure. The Snells had no formal wine training, yet Lisa and Kent Callaghan, owners of Callaghan Vineyards, took them under their wing and showed them the ropes.
Pete and Jeanne want people to come in and taste the quality of the wines for themselves. “We don’t want to tell them what it should taste like,” says Pete, “We want them to discover their own palate and find out what they like. Ironically,” he chuckles, “when we host Arizona wine challenges and bring in wines from other regions for people to blind taste side by side, they almost always choose Arizona.”
Another goal for this fabulous duo is to introduce obscure grapes to encourage people to explore varietals they may have never tried. For instance, European varietals grow incredibly well here in the desert. Sample a Graciano, Tannat, or Aglianico, and give your taste-buds a break from your go-to Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.
They also sell local cheeses and small bites, so you can order food and have it delivered or bring your own dinner. They also host winemaker dinners and are working on a wine club. “We truly care about the product and our customers,” says Pete, “We know what’s made our wine experiences special and want to pass that on to our customers.”
If you live in Phoenix, I recommend a quick drive to visit this one-stop AZ wine shop. If you live in Tucson, you might want to consider claiming a regular seat.
The Arizona Wine Collective is located in the St. Phillips Plaza at 4280 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson. Check out their website at www.azwinecollective.com. Hours of operation are Tuesday and Wednesday from 2pm-8pm, Thursday 2pm-9pm, Friday 2pm-10pm, Saturday 12pm-10pm, Sunday 12pm-8pm, and Closed Mondays.
Darla Hoffmann, passed both her Sommelier Level 1 and Certified Level 2 exams with the highest score in her class, earning the esteemed “Walter Clore Scholarship”. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine and Hospitality Beverage under the Society of Wine Educators, and a member of The Wine Century Club. She works in the tasting room of Scottsdale’s LDV Wine Gallery, has written for City Sun Times, MYnewsMesa, and The Society of Wine Educators’ website. Darla is the sole proprietor of About Wine, which focuses on wine education and marketing through means of tastings, classes, and promotions. She conducts customized classes at various restaurants and events in Phoenix. For more info, visit: www.aboutwineinaz.com.