By Eric Schaefer
By New Times
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Meanwhile, Glomski's move to Arizona in 2003 was something he'd had in mind all along. It was actually a homecoming for him.
Born in Illinois and raised in Boston, Glomski, 40, originally moved to Prescott in his teens. After dropping out of high school, he became a bar manager, touring with the Grateful Dead. Later, Glomski studied landscape ecology at Prescott College and continued with graduate work at Northern Arizona University. He went into business restoring rivers for the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, and also landed a teaching position at Prescott College.
In the course of his fieldwork in central Arizona, he came across abandoned homesteads where there were heirloom fruit orchards. Dick Landis, a wild, old artist friend who called himself a "sensualist," taught Glomski how to make apple wine, which appealed to his creative side.
Just down the hill from his Page Springs vineyard in Cornville, blue-eyed, sandy-haired Glomski sits at a picnic table on a quiet wooden deck overlooking the burbling stretch of Oak Creek that runs through the property, recalling how close he was to Dick and his ideals.
"He turned me on to what art is, regardless of the medium," he says. "He was an amazing chef, growing his own herbs and hunting his own meat, and he did all kinds of paintings and weavings. He initially got me into the idea that all art is an expression of the power of the Earth. The artist is just a conduit."
One particular apple wine led to an epiphanous experience that he still recalls vividly.
"When I drank that wine, I saw images of the place where I picked those apples," he says. Now, the same thing happens when he tastes juice from his own grapes.
By the time his obsession turned to fine wines, Glomski was prepared to devote his modest income to learning all about it, eventually moving to Northern California in the mid-'90s. He volunteered at wineries, worked as a cellar rat, and eventually got a job at David Bruce Winery in 1997. Located in Los Gatos, it's internationally renowned for its award-winning pinot noir. By 2002, Glomski had worked his way up through several positions to become its co-winemaker and director of production.
He was back in Arizona the following year, helping Sedona's Echo Canyon Winery with its first wine, when he met Keenan.
To Glomski's surprise, Keenan wasn't just passionate about wine. He'd already started dabbling in growing grapes in Jerome, and was eager to learn.
"I made a bunch of money in the music industry, and I have friends who wonder why I don't just buy a house at the beach and go surfing," he says. "But winemaking feels like a natural progression."
Keenan turns grouchy when he talks about the music industry, and the expectations people put on him as a songwriter, as if his lyrics can heal them — let alone himself. "If these songs are so cathartic, then shouldn't I should be fat and happy now? If it doesn't help me and I don't move on, how is that gonna help you?"
Try telling that to Tool fans. They can't get enough of Keenan's cryptic, tortured lyrics, which they discuss and dissect ad nauseum on message boards.
He sighs. "There's an endless downward spiral that comes with being a rock star, and I'm not good at the dog-and-pony show."
As soon as conversation turns back to wine, though, Keenan perks up, chatting about the free-run juice versus juice pressed from the grape skins, and how the characteristics of Arizona fruit are more European and acidic than Californian and fruity.
Yes, this is one creative outlet he could happily talk about all day.
Not long after Keenan moved to Jerome, his "hippie neighbor with the rope belt" heard he was interested in wine and suggested he buy some land, plant some vines, and see what happens.
Now he has an expanse of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Malvasia Bianca grapes that he planted himself, growing on the side of a cliff next to his home in Jerome. He calls this spot Merkin West.
"It's harder to farm, but it does better because of the south-facing slopes," Keenan says with a hint of pride.
As he walks down a steep path through rows of lush green grapevines, a cool breeze softly rustles the leaves. Because of the sharp incline, it's a remarkably private piece of land, basically invisible from any other spot in Jerome. That suits Keenan just fine; he welcomes only visitors who can keep mum on the exact location. From the vineyard, all you can see is a vast, tree-dotted hill.
Across a narrow road, he also has a spectacular terraced orchard boasting mature apricot, almond, and plum trees, as well as a panoramic view of sandy, rippling hills and terracotta-colored mountains beyond them. Walking past fragrant rosemary bushes and clusters of lazy Susans in bloom, Keenan, an avid cook, gets excited talking about all the fresh fruits and herbs on hand. He's a big fan of seasonal produce.
He's also enthusiastic about environmental sustainability. Grabbing a ripe fig from a nearby tree and popping the soft fruit into his mouth, Keenan explains how the orchard was designed to gather rainwater so the trees' root systems can survive until the next monsoon season. Next to his home, he collects rainwater at a bunker-like facility that will eventually become Caduceus Cellars. And at Merkin South, he wants to grow more fruit trees by creating a flood-irrigated patch down the middle of the vineyard.