A monthly look at Arizona wine with Valley dining impresario Pavle Milic
Missouri native Greg Gonnerman moved to Arizona to study electronics at DeVry University. He ended up getting bit by the wine bug at a series of Scottsdale wine shop tastings in 2005. “I learned a lot… from the winemakers, marketers and distributors who were pouring the wine,” he says. He tackled home winemaking, cajoling friends with backyards in Mesa to plant vines, and finally, planting his own commercial vineyard, Chiricahua Ranch Vineyards in Willcox, to pursue his passion.
Gonnerman mainly sells fruit to winemakers. Standouts include Sand-Reckoner Vineyards’ 2016 Vermentino ($24). Vermentino, a white varietal popular in Sardinia and Corsica, adapts well to Arizona high country – its flavor profile is rocky, steely, limey and potent. Callaghan Vineyards’s 2016 Petit Manseng ($35) is another outstanding white wine utilizing grapes from Gonnerman, “whose meticulous work in the vineyard apparently comes easily” thanks to his engineering background, winemaker Kent Callaghan says.
Under his Laramita Cellars label, named after Arizona’s first official port of entry from Mexico, Gonnerman also makes wine, with an assist from Sand-Reckoner vintner Rob Hammelman. I particularly like the 2016 Laramita Roussanne ($24), which presents tropical aromatics, rich texture and refreshing acid to mitigate Roussanne’s big personality. Look out for Gonnerman in the future, because this rookie is rubbing elbows with the right folks and growing some pretty nice fruit.
Chiricahua Ranch Vineyards/Laramita Cellars
6223 E. Cattle Dr., Willcox