I Heard It Through the Grapevine: If Family Feud surveyed 100 people and asked what came to mind when they thought of "Arizona," I suspect the top four answers would be the Grand Canyon, cowboys and Indians, cactus and crooked politicians.
By the end of the decade, though, boosters are hoping that another image will spring to mind: wine.
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That may seem a bit of a stretch now. After all, few people drop into Circle K looking for a six-pack of cabernet. But now there's an Arizona Wine Commission settled into place. The legislature established it last year, at the urging of wine industry entrepreneurs, to help promote their fledgling enterprise. And they're looking to get the word out about Arizona vineyards and winemakers. One of their allies is Bill Godfrey, who has just introduced a quarterly, two-page newsletter called Arizona Wines. The first two issues highlighted several of the state's wineries, and focused on a relatively new venture called Paradise Valley Vineyards. The owners purchase grapes from the vineyards of southeastern Arizona, and turn them into wine here in the Valley. Godfrey also rates new Arizona wine releases and publicizes wine-related events. If you're interested in subscribing or checking out a complimentary copy, drop him a line at 4826 North 35th Place, Phoenix, AZ 85018. I also ran across a much less scintillating trade paper, Vintage Voice, published by grape grower Al Buhl. Buhl also sits on the Wine Commission and is president of the Wine Growers Association. A page 1 headline of the Spring 1994 issue announces, "Our Publisher Takes Delivery of a New Tractor!" Readers learn that Buhl is the proud owner of a new Massey Ferguson, equipped with a Gearmore 3-point hitch in-row cultivator and Venturi Air Sprayer. A photo immortalizes the event. On page 3, vintner Tom Brady writes about the charms of one of the state's best grape suppliers, Dos Cabezas Vineyards. The owner? Al Buhl. At Vintage Voice, seldom is heard a discouraging word about the glorious future awaiting the Arizona wine industry. A few local retailers do carry Arizona wines. Sportsman's and AJ's are probably your best bets. And there's a new discount wine shop, AZ Wine Company, that carries a full line of Paradise Valley Vineyards products. The place sells mostly premium California wines at sharply reduced prices. There are some good bargains among the French wines, as well. If you enjoy poking around wines, looking for something interesting and affordable, you'll be rewarded here. It's at 2515 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Call 423-9305. And in more wine-related news, the Wall Street Journal reports that pretty soon, cork-sniffing may be as pass as dipping snuff. That's because corks of the future will probably be made from plastic. Synthetic corks made by a New Jersey packaging company are being tested by several wineries. Their advantage over traditional cork: no aftertaste, mildew or other outside flavors imparted to the wine. They're also cheaper than the traditional stopper, which comes from the bark of Portugal's cork oak tree. The disadvantage: Consumers associate plastic corks with cheap wines. Right now, California's St. Francis Winery is the only establishment that exclusively uses plastic corks. If wine lovers aren't put off, look for others to quickly follow.