Pavle Milic, Author at PHOENIX magazine

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The delicate art of selecting the right grape varietal to plant on any given plot of land led me to create an informal amicus brief with neighboring winemakers in Sonoita. With my coterie, I parse through all the choices to make prudent decisions based on history and performance of established vineyards. Currently at our Los Milics estate vineyard, we have Petit Verdot, Marsanne and Montepulciano in the ground; and this spring, we’re grafting Malvasia Bianca,...

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Last time I wrote about Los Milics Winery was back in September of 2020 – after the hurricane known as “harvest.” Construction on our winery in the Southern Arizona town of Elgin was completed and my wife, Carla (pictured), and I processed 36 tons of fruit by ourselves. From our vineyard a few miles away in Elfrida we got some beautiful Graciano, Grenache and Mourvèdre. However, the Tempranillo from that site was not yielding the...

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Recently, Jessica Dupuy, a contributor to forbes.com and Texas Monthly, was tapped by book publisher Infinite Ideas to contribute to its Classic Wine Library series, which profiles both benchmark and lesser-known regions, from Burgundy and Rioja to Greece and Georgia (the country). Dupuy’s entry is The Wines of Southwest U.S.A. and includes wine regions in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and – you guessed it – Arizona. Dupuy writes about each region’s history, climate and personalities...

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Here’s another column about some new kids on the block. One day, driving down Elgin Road in Southern Arizona wine country, I noticed a banner that read “Twisted Union” hanging on Kief-Joshua Vineyard’s fence. I’d heard rumblings about Kief Manning looking to sell his winery and vineyard, and by the looks of this, he did. Twisted Union Wine Co. is composed of 14 partners. In fact, I know some of the folks involved because they...

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After the 16-hour-a-day whirlwind of harvest came to an end at my Los Milics Winery, I suddenly had time to think about something other than pH and Brix levels. It caused some low-level depression. A sense of non-purpose. I was warned about this by fellow winemakers, but I didn’t believe them. Well, it’s true. As an antidote, I stepped up my infrequent running routine and decided to revisit one of my favorite wine books to...

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Everything is just right. You decanted that special bottle of wine you bought on vacation six years ago to accompany the anniversary dinner that you lovingly cooked for your significant other. Letting the dry-aged ribeye rest, you set the table and take the Dauphinoise potatoes out of the oven. Finally, you both sit down to clink clink over the momentous occasion, with candlelight flickering and Wilco playing in the background. You pop the cork, swirl...

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In early August, my fledgling winery, Los Milics, harvested our first pick of Tempranillo. It could have gone horribly wrong, because just two days prior we had a hailstorm in Sonoita. Thankfully we lived to pick our fruit and avoid disaster. A helluva start to our 2020 vintage, and par for the course for a challenging and emotionally straining year. Before we could harvest, we had to prepare the winery for the incoming fruit. Though...

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The Arizona wine scene continues to show us the spirit of discovery and experimentation is alive and well. A common thread is the continuing search for grape varietals that can do well here. Enter Arizona wine pioneer Kent Callaghan’s latest discovery: Xarel-lo. Hailing from the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, the white varietal is one normally found in the ubiquitous sparkling Cava. Callaghan tells me that his interest “began with a trip to Barcelona in...

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Temporarily closing FnB, the little gin joint I help run in Scottsdale, due to COVID-19 was challenging and sad. In stark contrast, my other life in Baja Arizona has never been busier. The vineyards don’t stop growing at Los Milics, our nascent winery in Sonoita, so my wife and I have been hard at work. For the last couple of months, we’ve been finalizing trellis architecture. In 2019, we finally put our own vines in...

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People are being asked to forego non-essentials – including visits to wine-tasting rooms. This hurts the bottom line for Arizona wine growers, but it’s not nearly as painful as the mass closures of restaurants, hotels and wine shops, where they do the bulk of their sales. Many hope to pick up the slack through wine clubs and direct-mail services. Some wineries have gone digital, connecting with their customer base via services like Zoom. Kent Callaghan...

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One of my favorite rituals every morning before heading to work is doing The New York Times mini crossword puzzle, which always puts my brain in the right place. One recent clue read: Ancient alcoholic beverage enjoying a 21st-century resurgence. The answer came to me quickly: “mead” – probably because I drive by a meadery every day on Highway 82 in Sonoita. Traditionally made from honey, water and yeast, mead is considered the oldest beverage...

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I finally got around to visiting Old Town Scottsdale’s latest Arizona wine-tasting room: Maynard James Keenan’s Merkin Vineyards, which opened last year. It was something of a nostalgic homecoming for me, because the space served as the first home of my restaurant, FnB. And, yes, I like what they’ve done with the place. Just like Keenan’s Caduceus tasting room in Jerome, MV is posh and welcoming. General manager James Cunningham walked me through the offerings:...

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In an effort to celebrate a year passed, and to possibly introduce you to a wine you haven’t tried yet, I reached out to fellow colleagues in the wine industry to ask them what wines they thought to be memorable in 2019. I’ll start off by telling you my pick: Petit Manseng. Originally from the southwest of France, the Jurançon to be exact, the white varietal held natural appeal to Kent Callaghan of Callaghan Vineyards,...

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Driving down Lower Elgin Road in Sonoita the other day, I noticed Autumn Sage Vineyards for the first time, despite passing it frequently. For some reason, the sign and white picket fence lining the hilly vineyard finally arrested my attention. It’s always exciting to write about a new vineyard, especially when it’s in my neighborhood. Autumn Sage is the brainchild of Steve Basila, who got to know our state intimately via his 40-year career as...

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I first met Brooke Lowry Ide of fledgling winery Vino Bandito Vineyards after a long day this past harvest. A former corporate marketing pro with three new plots in Sonoita-Elgin, Ide told me how she’d just processed four tons of Graciano – by herself. Wow. I needed to know more. One thing is certain: She has a pioneering spirit. Why did you get into the wine industry? Desk life was wearing on me, and I...

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