A Taste of the Rhône Valley in Arizona

Our Introduction to Arizona Wines at LDV Winery

Mr. TWS and I aren’t wine snobs. But we enjoy good wine, and we have been surprised a number of times finding it in unexpected places. Learning about new wine regions and sampling their varietals is something that we really enjoy when traveling. Recently, we had just such a surprise on a visit to our first Arizona winery tasting room, trying wines produced right here in our new home state of Arizona. That’s right — Arizona.

Selection of wines at LDV Winery in Scottsdale, Arizona

Selection of LDV Wines

Pleasant surprises at LDV Winery in Scottsdale

We first heard that there were winemakers producing wines in Arizona a couple of years ago. We were surprised by that since we couldn’t imagine how that could be possible given the landscape and climate of much of the state. Since we’ve been so spoiled over the years, visiting great wine regions in places such as Italy, Portugal, and Spain, and living near great wine areas in California, we didn’t give much thought to checking out Arizona wineries on our occasional trips to the state. Now living in Scottsdale, it seemed the right time to start exploring Arizona wines.

Our first Arizona wine tasting experience was at LDV Winery’s tasting room in downtown Scottsdale. Located on a quiet tree-lined street off Scottsdale Road in a typical old southwestern ranch-style building, LDV’s tasting room is a comfortable and welcoming place to enjoy a fine glass of wine.

Welcoming entrance,of the LDV Winery wine gallery and company logo -- Scottsdale, Arizona

Welcoming entrance,of the LDV Winery wine gallery and company logo

We were greeted by Darla Hoffmann, Certified Specialist of Wine and Sommelier, who guided us through a tasting of several LDV wines while talking about the winery’s history, owners, and philosophy.

LDV Winery Tasting Room in Scottsdale, Arizona

LDV Winery Tasting Room

LDV Winery owners Curt Dunham, Winemaker, and Peggy Fiandaca, Marketing Director, were long-time wine collectors with a passion for the “magic of the grape to glass journey”.  LDV Winery’s owners say that serendipity led them to create LDV wines. But they traveled extensively to gain an understanding of terroir and to learn everything involved in growing grapes and making wine. Then, visiting friends in the Chiricahua Mountain foothills of southeastern Arizona’s Cochise County with a high altitude and climate similar to that of the Rhône Valley of France — perfect for producing Rhône Valley varietals — they were inspired to establish their winery in accord with their philosophy, “let nature do its magic”. Curt and Peggy are very hands-on in working and managing their 40-acre estate vineyards and bringing their wines to market.

Our wine flight

What we learned in tasting these wines is that it’s wrong to assume that quality wines can’t be produced in Arizona by Arizona winemakers — at least from our experience at LDV Winery. In keeping with LDV’s philosophy to “let the fruit speak for itself and every wine tells a story”, I’ll leave it to the winemaker’s tasting notes below to describe our wine flight (and I don’t disagree with one word of it).

2013 Sky Island Viognier

A dry, crisp wine to complement our outdoor lifestyle. Enjoy with seafood, especially shellfish, lemon chicken, spicy foods, or as an aperitif on a warm afternoon.

2014 Viognier (my personal favorite — it was perfect for the hot, sunny afternoon we visited)

Enjoy this wine on its own or with a wide variety of foods. It offers a nose and mouthful of tropical fruits from pineapple to mango with a burst of fresh honey and vanilla. The oak is in the background but offers spicy notes that will complement the richness of grilled halibut, sea bass, streamed lobster, and grilled shrimp with a vanilla beurre blanc sauce. It will also work well with brie cheese topped with fruit and crème brûlée.

2013 Sky Island Grenache

The 2013 Sky Island Grenache is 100% Grenache grown at the LDV Winery vineyard. It was aged for 33 months in 100% neutral oak barrels to showcase the natural fruit flavors of the Chiricahua Mountains and was not fined or filtered. This wine is fruit forward bursting with strawberries and pomegranates on the palette, finishing with tart cherries, white pepper, and spice. Enjoy with grilled poultry, salmon, or Ahi tuna.

2012 Grenache

A versatile wine to enjoy with many types of food. Will cozy up with anything off the grill such as chicken kabobs, pork, salmon, or seared Ahi tuna.

2013 Syrah

This full-bodied wine is filled with aromas of coffee and berries that lead into multiple layers of dark fruit on the palette. It has a decadent, soft mouth feel that is luscious and sensual. Enjoy with grilled meat.

2012 Petite Sirah

2012 Petite Sirah exhibits our usual bold and hearty Petite Sirah characteristics with a soft mouthfeel and managed tannins. The Grenache adds spicy notes with hints of strawberries and red currant. Enjoy with smoked baby back ribs, pizza, bleu cheeseburgers, rack of lamb, and marinated beef kabobs.

2013 “The Signature” Petite Sirah (Mr. TWS’s favorite — his favorites are always robust red wines)

“The Signature” is made from 100% Petite Sirah grapes and will only occur when the vintage produces grapes that will showcase well exclusively. This ultra, full-bodied wine with smoky, spicy, dark fruit flavors pairs well with grilled rib eye steaks, braised short ribs, and chocolate.

Newly produced by LDV Winery is a port-like 100% Petite Sirah dessert wine that is aged in American and neutral oak barrels for 40 months. We didn’t sample this one, but it’s especially notable because it was a 2016 Arizona Wine of Distinction award winner by the Arizona Republic newspaper in its annual competition.

Inside the tasting room with Darla Hoffmann; Display of flags honoring Curt Dunham'ss parents at LDV Winery in Scottsdale, Arizona

Inside the tasting room with Darla Hoffmann; Display of flags honoring Curt’s parents

Besides the wonderful tastes of wine, there were other aspects of the wine gallery that made an impression on us during our visit.

Darla talked to us about LDV Winery’s commitment to growing their grapes and caring for the land with sustainable practices. The winery logo of three circles (shown in the photo above) portrays the motto, “Earth’s Fruit Comes Full Circle” and highlights this commitment. LDV Winery also produces soaps made with grape juice, seeds, and skin and uses 100% recyclable packaging, including the reuse of corks.

We also found it touching that LDV Winery is named in tribute to Curt’s parents, Betty Jane Lawrence and Robert Erwin Dunham, citing that Curt is the end of the family lineage. On the wall of the tasting room, there are two American flags in display cases presented to the family because Curt’s parents were both veterans of World War II. We really liked these personal touches.

LDV Winery’s tasting room is aptly called a “wine gallery” reflecting the room’s displays of art by Arizona artists and craftspeople which are on display.

Front patio of LDV Winery's Wine Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona

Front patio of LDV Winery’s Wine Gallery

The wine gallery is available for private events and other small gatherings — inside and on one of the two patios, and Mr. TWS and I thought it would be great for such events — small, intimate, pleasant artistic surroundings in such a convenient downtown Scottsdale location.

We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of LDV wines and will certainly be back to taste and shop. We’ll also bring out-of-town guests who I’m sure will enjoy this unexpected surprise, too.

Shop and tour tip: LDV wines are currently available at selected upscale Arizona restaurants and markets, at the wine gallery, and by mail order. Tours at the vineyard and winery in southeastern Arizona are available by appointment. For more information, tour appointments, and contact details: LDV Winery

9 thoughts on “A Taste of the Rhône Valley in Arizona

  1. Doreen Pendgracs

    Thx so much for this great post, Cathy. I had no idea that AZ produces some great wines. I am especially interested in that Petite Sirah as it is said to pair well with chocolate. 🙂 I understand that some of the spas in the area also feature chocolate spa treatments, so it looks like it’s time for me to make my way back to Scottsdale!

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      I think that’s the perfect wine for you as a chocolate lover. That’s also another reason that Mr. TWS likes it, I think.

  2. Donna Janke

    LDV Winery in Scottsdale sounds like a great place to visit. I’ll keep it in my mind for my next visit to Arizona. I love Viognier and Syrah. A few years ago, my husband and I toured some of the wineries on the Sonoita Elgin wine trail southeast of Tucson. Fun.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Thanks for the tip about the Sonoita Elgin wine trail. That’s another Arizona wine region that I’d love to explore.

  3. michele h peterson

    I never would have imagined that Chiricahua Mountain foothills of southeastern Arizona’s Cochise County would have a climate similar to the Rhône Valley. What a great discovery and well worth adding to a wine lovers must-try list on a visit to Arizona

  4. Dorota

    I’ve tasted wine in California – I loved Dobra Zemlja winery, its owner comes from Croatia and he plays with the wine a lot… the wines were so different and tasty! But I had no idea there are wineries in Arizona… I guess I found another reason to go back to the USA 🙂

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