A monthly look at Arizona wine with Valley dining impresario Pavle Milic.
Arizona winemakers now have another excellent source for grapes: KG Vines.
In the late 1980s, while on active duty in Italy, U.S. Army soldier George Whitmill met Kat Crockett. They fell in love with not only each other, but wine. Upon returning to the U.S. in 1991, they lived in Virginia for a year. Then they headed to Tennessee, where they raised cattle and horses and got married. Their love of wine led them to plant some vines, but the weather in Tennessee was too humid and inclement for their grapes. In 2007, they moved to the Arizona town of Whetstone, just 20 minutes away from Elgin wine country. “We knew we didn’t want to retire sitting in front of the television,” Kat says. “We wanted to be active, to be outside.”
On a patch of ground Kat calls their “little Eden,” the couple started cultivating grapes, which they sell to winemakers like Kent Callaghan of Callaghan Vineyards. The first 6 acres were planted in 2014, and in 2015 they added another 4 acres. They currently grow Tannat, Petit Verdot, Graciano, Montepulciano, Semillon, Mourvèdre and Barbera.
Callaghan uses their Tannat, a lighter-body, lower-tannin breed popular in Uruguay. “The 2017 is still in barrel,” Callaghan says. “It’s showing real personality and complexity, something we rarely see at [comparatively high] 12.5 percent alcohol in Arizona red wine.”
Currently, the couple doesn’t harbor ambitions to make their own wine, but we’ll see. If you’re going to catch the wine bug anywhere, it’s wine country.
Elevation: 4,800 feet