Last week some of Arizona's top wine growers gathered at The Farm at South Mountain for the launch of the Arizona Vignerons Alliance. The nonprofit organization hopes to promote Arizona wine through quality control. Founding members include some of the biggest names in Arizona wine, such as Kent and Lisa Callaghan of Callaghan Vineyards, Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas WineWorks, Maynard and Jennifer Keenan of Caduceus Cellars, and Rob and Sarah Hammelman of Sand-Reckoner Vineyards.
Unlike the Arizona Wine Growers Association — which represents, promotes, and educates consumers about Arizona wine — the AVA is primarily a quality control organization. The group will organize panels to judge Arizona wines and grant AVA certification if the wine is deemed up to par. Only wines made from 100 percent Arizona grapes will be eligible for submission.
Wines approved by the AVA will be labeled with a seal that will guarantee both origin and quality for consumers.
Todd Bostock compares the AVA certification to the VDF (Vin de France) designation that ensures French wine is, in fact, made in France. Bostock also looks to products like Jamón ibérico and Parmigiano-Reggiano, both food products which must be produced in a specific area or to specific standards in order to be labeled as such.
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"We shouldn't be afraid of the world stage," Bostock says of Arizona winemakers. "And in order to get there, we need to get high standards."
The first AVA blind judging will be held on May 9 in Phoenix and will be overseen by Dale Sparks, a longtime wine importer in the Valley. For more information or to contact the AVA, visit the Arizona Vignerons Alliance website.
Editor's Note: This post has been changed from its original version.