My co-owner at FnB, Charleen Badman, and I started showcasing the bounty of the local terroir almost 12 years ago. We decided early on to reach out to our community to represent our state through the lens of food and wine. None of that has changed, and we continue to inculcate and foment our focus on provenance. Every time we discover a new artisan, farmer or winemaker, we are not only giddy, but also amazed by the evolution and growth of our state’s offerings.
Self-described multi-tasker extraordinaire Maynard James Keenan of Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards is about to give us another reason to toast our state’s growth – and to visit Cottonwood as soon as possible. He secured an 8-acre elevated hilltop property at the edge of Cottonwood, where he’s building infrastructure for terraced vineyards that echo the city’s slogan: “The Heart of Wine Country.”
In addition to 5 acres under vine, the property will house a production facility and a restaurant/winery, Merkin Vineyards Hilltop Trattoria. If all goes well, it will yield fruit in 2022 and guests can see the harvest in action, along with 360-degree views of the Verde Valley. In classic Maynard fashion, he’ll use as much local produce as possible, including from his very own orchard.
Hilltop parking will be available, but you can also park at the bottom of the hill and use a lift that ascends between the vines. At ground level, shipping containers will serve as modern-day bodegas. The trattoria is slated to open by the end of the year.
An Arizona-focused agro-emporium on top of a hill surrounded by vines? Cottonwood – and Arizona wine hospitality – will never be the same.