We Visit Pillsbury Wine Company in Cottonwood, Arizona

Pillsbury Wine Company ~ Cottonwood, Arizona – The Pillsbury Wine Company brought us our initiatory sampling of a 100% Arizona wine. Frankly, we were absolutely blown away.

In fact, if we hadn’t known better, we could have easily thought we were drinking a wine grown from a very famous wine-growing region.

Just look at some of the raving reviews that have come in for Sam Pillsbury’s wines:

  • “Rising Star of the West” – Wine Spectator
  • “Best Wine in Arizona” – San Francisco Examiner
  • “93 Points” – Mark Tarbell

We arrived at the Pillsbury Wine Company chauffeured as a part of our media tour of Perfect Pairings Gourmet Getaway Sedona.

I must confess, our 10:30 first stop felt a little early to begin wine tasting, but such is the life of The Roaming Boomers®.  Somebody’s gotta do it, right?

After a round of introductions, Dana Borger (pictured below) began pouring our first sample of a wine grown with 100% Arizona grapes.

We began sampling WildChild White and WildChild Red as Dana proceeded to tell us that the grapes from these particular wines were from a neighboring abandoned vineyard (down in Chochise County) that possessed mysterious crop circles.

Mrs. Roaming Boomers, being a bit of a wild child herself, beamed with an approving smile as she enjoyed her first taste.

As we continued on to sample the Roan Red (A Rhone-style Blend), Diva, and a Pinot Gris, Sam worked his way behind the bar to share a bit of his story.

As it turns out, Sam Pillsbury is a New Zealand film director turned winemaker.

Sam flew into Arizona to shoot a pilot for Universal Pictures and fell in love with an Arizona girl and the Arizona landscape at the same time.

Growing up in New Zealand Sam witnessed the phenomenon of growing classical wine grapes in unusual places. Then on a camping trip in Arizona thought he could try the same thing here.

The location he picked was a high-altitude desert valley in Cochise County, 200 miles SE of Phoenix. This all came from a desire to get away from mass-produced ‘McDonalds’ wines and create a distinctive regional Boutique wine that was 100% Arizona and 100% original. He gambled that the high-altitude, endless sunshine, sandy loam and dry desert would make for a perfect Terroir, and in 2000 he planted 20 acres of Rhone varieties.  It worked.

In the less than two years since he released his first wines under the Pillsbury label the wines got a 93 from Mark Tarbell in the AZ Republic, a ‘Best AZ Wine’ from the San Francisco Examiner, a rave from trendy Eateraz.com blog stating that these are the first wines from Arizona that we can say have a truly incredible taste, ‘Best Local Winemaker’ from Phoenix Magazine, and a Gold Medal at the 2009 AWGA Festival for the 2007 Diva.

James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator called him one of the ‘Rising Stars of the Southwest’ and rated the 2007 Roan Red and 2007 Diva an 88. He gave the 2007 Pillsbury Petite Sirah 89, the highest score for an AZ wine from this publication.

As you can see here, we had a wonderful visit to the Pillsbury Wine Company. The room was filled with laughter as it was immediately clear that Carol and Dana were cut from the same cloth. Sam and I were left to admire pure joyous laughter and enjoy his Rhone-style Red Blend.

In the winter months you can also find Sam at the new North Scottsdale Farmers Market located on the South East corner of 94th & Shea Blvd.

We are happy to have met Sam Pillbury and his team at the Pillsbury Wine Company.  We feel we have found new friends and we have definitely found a new favorite wine for our table.

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