By Kathryn M. Miller

There is a long and rich heritage of agriculture in Arizona, but in recent years, there has been a surge in one industry in particular – the grape growing and wine making industry. Arizona is an up-and-coming player in the wine arena. In 2011, Arizona had an estimated economic impact of $37.6 million supporting over 400 jobs.

What began in 1973 south of Tucson in the Sonoita /Elgin areahas turned into 45 licensed wineries throughout Arizona today. There are three major growing regions, all in the high desert: Sonoita/Elgin, Willcox and VerdeValley. You may have heard of some of the wines that come of out these regions, some of them perhaps not. But we aim to rectify that.

In March, CST will debut a new feature, Discover AZ Wines. In the months ahead, we will take a journey through Arizona’s wine regions and learn about the vineyards and winemakers that are producing wines that are popping up not only at local markets, but around the country, not to mention presidential wine lists. Along the way, our guide will be Peggy Fiandaca, owner (along with husband Curt Dunham) and marketing director of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards as well as the president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association. The Association represents all of the wineries and vineyards statewide. She has a passion for building the Arizona wine industry and understands the economic potential the industry can play.

Fiandaca will share not only her passion and knowledge of the industry, but the culture and community of wine growers and wine lovers. We’ll also share original recipes, wine-pairing suggestions and a wealth of information on wine-related events happening in town and around the state.

We hope you’ll join us on this delicious journey of discovery. Until next month, Cheers! |CST

Editor’s note: The above article, from our February 2013 issue, introduced our Discover AZ Wines feature, which ran monthly through January 2014. We will post each of the 2013-14 feature articles here soon, and are so pleased that Peggy Fiandaca will continue as an online feature writer in 2014. We encourage you to learn more about the Arizona Wine Growers Association on its website and to check back here each month for new ways to Discover AZ Wines. Enjoy!

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