It is almost harvest time in Arizona’s wine country. Veraisan is in full swing, which is when the grapes turn the lushest shade of purple. Wineries are scrambling to make room for the upcoming vineyard bounty. Everyone is reporting a good grape set and if all goes well, a good harvest, which should begin mid-to-late August. Vineyards located at low elevations such as Charron Vineyards in Vail, Arizona (just southeast of Tucson) will start bringing in their grapes in early- to mid-August and the higher elevation vineyards will be harvesting into October.
Arizona’s monsoon weather starts in southeastern Arizona and it got a late start this year. Vineyards watch these weather patterns very closely and can have a tremendous impact as the grapes ripen on the vines. Depending on the monsoon season and if damage occurs, many of the wineries are optimistic that 2014 will deliver another bumper crop.
There is no better time to visit an Arizona vineyard than right before or during harvest. The vineyards are full of grapes, which is a sight to behold. Many of the wineries are hosting late summer events. And of course, Arizona’s wine country is much cooler with afternoon rains, cool breezes and lower temperatures.
Tasting wine and visiting the vineyards are not the only reason to visit Arizona’s wine country at this time of the year. Other specialty crops like peaches and apples as well as sweet corn and vegetables are available for the picking. Southeastern Arizona produces some of the best sweet corn that rivals the corn from my childhood in Illinois. Apple Annie’s Orchard is just one of the examples of incredible you pick’em experiences that your family can enjoy.
Lawrence Dunham Vineyards has two events to celebrate the upcoming harvest – Fifth Annual Grape to Glass Symposium August 2 and Farm to Table Culinary Weekend with Chef Joshua Hebert from Posh Restaurant in Scottsdale August 15-16. Both require registration and are limited in participation.
Tickets are on sale for the annual Festival at the Farm at South Mountain November 14-15. To learn more and purchase tickets visit www.azwinefestivalatthefarm.com/tickets.html. Visit the Arizona Wine Growers Association website for more events in Arizona Wine Country www.arizonawine.org.
Keep your money in Arizona and buy local wines made from Arizona grapes.