Most of us know about Napa, the Willamette Valley, even Walla Walla and for good reason. These are upper-echelon regions on the western wine map, having spent generations carving out high-caliber reputations. We take every opportunity to get lost in their wine-soaked wonders.
But with all due respect, wine is as much about discovery as anything else. Lesser-known wine regions can introduce us to a new varietal or style or even acquaint us with our new favorite producer. These places can feel secretive, at least relatively speaking, and that’s part of the fun. We feel let in on something special—offered a look into the crystal ball from a sommelier friend or somebody well-versed in the industry.
By all means, hit the big-production dots on the wine map. But do not overlook the smaller, emerging areas. We’re talking exciting wine scenes developing in states like Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, and more. Inland from the coast-kissed states we’re used to praising are high-mountain ones with promising industries, some just beginning to hatch.
Here are several destinations and wineries to check out in the American mountain west.
- Los Milics Vineyards
- Caduceus Winery & Tasting Room
- Sand-Reckoner Vineyards
- Dos Cabezas WineWorks
- Chateau Tumbleweed Winery & Tasting Room
The Grand Canyon State has an interesting wine scene coming to life. More than 100 wineries exist here, taking part in a practice that got its start commercially back in the 70s. Most of the scene is concentrated in the southeast corner of the state. There are two official AVAs here (Sonoita and Wilcox) and its Rhône and Italian grapes that tend to do best in the warm and dry climate.
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Los Milics Vineyards
423 Upper Elgin Rd #824, Elgin, AZ 85611
This winery touts one of the slickest tasting rooms in the state, set in Elgin just a short drive from the Mexican border. The modern structure features incredible views of the surrounding desert and the wines are intriguing, primarily blends dealing in everything from Marsanne and Petit Verdot to Syrah and Graciano. Set at around 5,000 feet, the cool nights at Los Milics keep the resident grapes quite happy.
Caduceus Winery & Tasting Room
158 Main St, Jerome, AZ 86331 (Tasting Room)
Next time you’re in AZ, make sure this winery is on your list, with a few locations and a main tasting room located in the historic mining town of Jerome. Check out the refreshing rosado and Aglianico, a southern Italian varietal. They even do some tasty canned wines. Oh, and you probably know the owner and winemaker Maynard James Keenan for his work as the frontman of the outstanding rock band Tool.
4798 E Robbs Rd, Willcox, AZ 85643
Another winery worth checking out is Sand-Reckoner Vineyards outside of Wilcox, not only because of its great name but due to its deftly-made wines, ranging from Malvasia Bianca and Rosé of Grenache to balanced red blends stressing grapes like Tempranillo. They make a tasty Tannat and play around with extended skin-contact white wines too. The tasting room is quite convenient, set near the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks
3248 AZ-82, Sonoita, AZ 85637
Another excellent mention. The Sonoita outfit makes some stellar Syrah and sparkling, as well as a number of solid blends. The label is run by three generations of the Bostock family and you can even get pies from Pronghorn Pizza with your wine at the tasting room, located off Highway 82.
Chateau Tumbleweed Winery & Tasting Room
1151 AZ-89A, Clarkdale, AZ 86324
Chateau Tumbleweed, a charming winery nestled in the heart of Arizona’s Verde Valley, is an absolute must-visit for wine aficionados. Their delightful wine offerings are skillfully crafted, featuring an enticing selection that includes Viognier and a captivating Rosé of Barbera, as well as rich red blends that highlight varietals such as Syrah and Graciano. For the adventurous palate, they even dabble in the lesser-known but equally enchanting Counoise grape. Located just a stone’s throw from the vibrant town of Clarkdale, the Chateau Tumbleweed tasting room is an inviting oasis where visitors can savor their delectable wines while basking in the warmth of Arizona’s famed hospitality.
It’s fair to say that Colorado wine is no longer a secret. The state has created a following already thanks to its high-set vineyards and tons of sunny days. Colorado is quickly approaching the 200 wineries mark, has two major AVAs in the Grand Valley and West Elks, and specializes in grape varieties like Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, along with Chardonnay, Riesling, and Viognier.
The Ordinary Fellow
202 Peach Ave, Palisade, CO 81526
The Ordinary Fellow is behind some elegant wines (not to mention very cool-looking labels as well) at its Palisade headquarters. The Chardonnay, Riesling, and Cabernet Sauvignon are all wonderfully restrained. Drop by the tasting room to sample their work (along with bites from house food card Le Snack) or book a private barrel tasting.
1501 Lee Hill Dr UNIT 17, Boulder, CO 80304 (Tasting Room)
Also in Palisade is Bookcliff Vineyards, crafters of some of the more expected varietals along with wines like Malbec and a late harvest Muscat Blanc. The label has a tasting room in Boulder too. Continental Divide Winery bills itself as the world’s highest elevation winery, set at 9,600 feet in the ski town of Breckendrige. They offer a host of tasting experiences, built around wines like Chardonnay, Syrah, and Bordeaux-style blends. The winery also has a tasting room a bit south in Fairplay.
Colorado Wine Festivals & Events
Colorado is home to some great wine-centric events too, most taking place over the long, warm days of summer. Of note is the Food & Wine Classic in mid-June in Aspen and the Breckenridge Wine Classic at the end of August.
Nampa is the new Napa. The Idaho town just outside of Boise is where a good chunk of the state’s wine industry is concentrated. Many associate the place with potatoes but wine grapes are becoming more and more popular in these parts. With three AVAs (Snake River Valley, Eagle Foothills, Lewis-Clark Valley) and more than 50 labels, there’s a lot to explore.
Split Rail Winery
3200 W Chinden Blvd, Garden City, ID 83714
Split Rail is among the most experimental wineries, stationed in a cool facility in Garden City. They like to tinker with grapes and ferment in things like amphora and cement eggs. This is where you should be if you like Pet-Nat, lively whites, juicy reds like Gamay Noir, and even Vermouth. There are guided flights and visitors can also set up private winery tours. Split Rail will change not only the way you appreciate Idaho wine, but wine in general.
Telaya Wine Company
240 E 32nd St, Garden City, ID 83714
Another place worth putting on the itinerary include Telaya Wine Company, also in Garden City. The label started in 2008 and has since made a name for itself with quality Cabernet Sauvignons to go with a stunning tasting room. Look out for pink wine made from Syrah and pleasant views along the banks of the Boise River. If you don’t feel like leaving anytime soon, you can stay next door at the Riverside Hotel.
Colter’s Creek Winery
20154 Colter Creek Ln, Juliaetta, ID 83535
The scene is a bit different over at Colter’s Creek in the Lewis-Clark Valley. The estate sits within the beautiful rolling terrain of Juliaetta, where the Clearwater and Potlatch Rivers join. This is where the vines and production happen, dealing in grapes like Grenache, Merlot, and Sangiovese. Tasting occurs at the label’s bar in the college town of Moscow.
Clearwater Canyon Cellars
3143 10th St, Lewiston, ID 83501
Also of note is Clearwater Canyon, sourcing from the same AVA. The Lewiston winery turns 20 next year and focuses on Albariño, Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more.
This is not just the land of Gruet anymore. And while that label is worth visiting (prized for their sparkling wines especially) and praised for bringing attention to New Mexico wine, there’s more to check out. The scene got its start with the famed Mission grape back in the 16th Century, a varietal that’s enjoying a bit of a renaissance today.
Some 60 wineries span three AVAs (Mesilla Valley, Middle Rio Grande Valley, Mimbres Valley) today, turning out everything from Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir to Viognier and Zinfandel.
2075 NM-68, Dixon, NM 87527
Vivác should be on any visitor’s radar. The label was launched by a pair of brothers and deals in Pinot Noir, Riesling, Tempranillo and more. They even make a port wine and keg some of their work. The Dixon tasting room is a gorgeous piece of adobe architecture built by the winemakers in 2003. There, you can enjoy any number of delights, from sweets made by a house chocolatier to acclaimed local artwork on the walls.
114 Becker Ave, Belen, NM 87002 (Tasting Room)
Jaramillo Vineyards is nestled in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, with a small vineyard that used to be an alfalfa farm. They make wines like Vermentino, Barbara, and Riesling, along with some excellent table wines (white and red). The tasting room is just six miles from the vineyard, stationed in a beautiful 114-year-old brick building in the town of Belen.
VARA Winery & Distillery
315 Alameda Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113
Meanwhile, VARA Winery & Distillery makes Spanish-style wines along with spirits like gin, rye, and Spanish brandy. The sparkling wine is well-made and the reds just beg for a cut of ham or paella. VARA has tasting rooms in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe where intrepid wine enthusiasts can enjoy house wines and tapas. There’s a pair of vibrant annual gatherings here as well, aptly named the New Mexico Wine Festival. It goes down at the end of May, spotlighting the local wine industry and setting up in both Albuquerque and Las Cruces.
We won’t blame you if you haven’t heard of Utah wine, let alone tried something from the Beehive State. Just 11 wineries reside here but that number is likely to grow in the coming years. Alcohol has a long and challenging history in the state but that doesn’t mean you can’t find quality wine (and beer) here.
IG Winery & Tasting Room
59 W Center St, Cedar City, UT 84720
I/G Winery is set in southern Utah in downtown Cedar City. They pull grapes from several other western states but do grow some wine grapes in Utah. The woodsy tasting room is easy to spend several hours in, warmed by a pretty fireplace and cozy furniture. The surroundings are accented by red rocks and tremendous topography while inside, there are several wine flights available.
Bold and Delaney Winery
1315 N Horsemans Pk Dr, Dammeron Valley, UT 84783
Bold & Delaney is another name worth dropping. The Dammeron Valley tasting room can be visited by way of an appointment and there’s both wine and charcuterie to explore. Wines include Semillon, Verdejo, Petit Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Grenache, with more options and new blends to come. The owners were drawn to the signature volcanic soils of this part of the southwest corner of the state.
If you’re sticking to larger towns like Park City, check out Stein Eriksen Lodge. It’s known for its wine offerings, among other things (like year-round dining in amazing stein alpenglobes). The place is home to a wine cellar that’s stocked with close to 20,000 bottles, which can serve as a backdrop to private tastings.
Frequently Asked Questions about Arizona Wineries, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado & Idaho
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