By New Times
By Robrt L. Pela
By Lauren Saria and Heather Hoch
By Deborah Sussman
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch
In the two years since their victory, Keeling says the number of federally bonded wineries here has more than doubled, to around 30, and the industry is expected to keep growing at a brisk pace.
"I can't even keep track of it," he says. "We've really attracted a lot of interest and a lot of investment."
Keeling says the quality's improved, too, and Arizona wineries are finally getting a presence in restaurants.
State legislator Ken Cheuvront, owner of Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar, says the problem with Arizona wines has been a lack of consistency.
"And for the price point, they're not always the best value," he says.
That's definitely changing. I've seen Arizona Stronghold on the wine list at NOCA, and Quiessence just held a wine dinner featuring Page Springs. If the best restaurants in Phoenix are getting behind these wines, the future looks promising.
There's also been some national media exposure. Last month, Page Springs Cellars' Familia Blanca received a good review from the Wall Street Journal; Glomski plans to send some product to Wine Spectator soon.
"As we're able to say it was grown here, we're getting a lot of attention," he says.
This year's harvest for Keenan and Glomski's wines was 250 tons, including 160 from Arizona and 90 from California. Keenan expects even more in-state grapes next year.
"You know, you have to be a great chemist and a great farmer to be a winemaker, because you're basically turning shit into gold," Keenan says. "But there a third element missing: Marketing. That's what I bring to the table. I'm willing to talk about it, and people want a good story."
Keenan acknowledges that the Arizona Stronghold bottle-signing events he and Glomski have been doing at West Coast Whole Foods stores have attracted lots of rock fans coming out for his autograph. The response has been overwhelming even among the most cynical and skeptical, he says.
To be sure, Keenan and Glomski aren't under any illusions that they're selling so much wine simply because of where it's from — at least for now. Fighting this state's mediocre reputation is still a priority.
"There's a short-term history of not-so-great Arizona wines," Glomski admits, refusing to name any names. "But on the flipside, I think there's a pent-up demand, and it's only gonna take a handful of people to change the perceptions."
These two have already made major strides, but what happens next really depends on whether wine drinkers will pull the cork and give Arizona another taste.
As Keenan says, the proof is in the bottle.