(Photo by Jenelle Bonifield)

Arizona Wineries Shine Bright Against International Wine Producers

February 27, 2024
By Matt Sterner

Here in Tucson, many of us are aware of the paradise just south of the city in Sonotia and Elgin, and then even more wines to try just east over in Willcox.

According to Addie Ibarra of Tucson Foodie, the Sonoita-Elgin area “is sure to accommodate your version of wine tasting,” regardless of whether you’re an oenophile, a Sunday sommelier, or perhaps just looking for a tannin-filled good time.

Earlier this month, an expert panel of judges lined up Arizona wines alongside a selection of international producers in a curated tasting. 24 wines were ranked in three categories of white wines and another three categories of red wines. 

“Arizona wines have earned their place on the international stage — challenging the belief that some ‘traditional’ wine regions have the lock on great wines,” said T. Scott Stephens, Managing Partner of Beckett’s Table, who hosted the event along with Katherine Stephens at Beckett’s Table Restaurant in Phoenix.

a table topped with glasses of wine
(Photo by Jenelle Bonifield)

“Today, we proved that great wines can come from lesser-known regions when you have thoughtful producers,” Stephens added.

Dos Cabezas WineWorks (Sonoita) won “Best Overall Red” and then tied with Los Milics Vineyards (Elgin) in the “Full Bodied and Rich Red” category. Laramita Cellars (Willcox) won “Best Light Bodied Red” with their Sangiovese.

  • Tim Hanni, Master of Wine, Author
  • Mark Tarbell, Tarbell’s Restaurant, Tarbell’s Tavern, Tarbell’s Wine Store
  • Lori Hassler, Certified Specialist of Wine, owner Farrish House Restaurant
  • Michelle Jacobs, General Manager and Director of Operations Gertrude’s at Desert Botanical Gardens
  • Raini Keyser, Certified Specialist of Wine, WSET2, General Manager Vinum55
  • Gary Spadafore, Certified Wine Educator, WSET3, Certified Specialist of Spirits, Wine Educator

Wines were tasted in two flights of white and red, and each flight had three categories.

a group of people sitting at a table with wine glasses
(Photo by Debbie Wolvos)

Each category paired two Arizona wines against two international selections. Top-ranked wines from each category advanced to a final flight to determine “Best White” and “Best Red” overall — Dos Cabezas WineWorks taking home the top prize for “Best Red.” 

“Events like this are important steps in increasing awareness of the burgeoning vineyard and winery community in Arizona, and demonstrate that our wines deserve respect — even among the more established wine regions of the world,” said Kent Callaghan, President of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.

a room filled with furniture and a table
(Photo by Debbie Wolvos)

“Our grape growers and winemakers are committed to producing exceptional wines that stand up to strong domestic and international competition,” Callaghan added.

For a list of wineries in the Sonoita/Elgin area, check out our interactive guide.

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