Kinda Like the Walking Dead

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Top of the Cask. Dos Cabezas Tasting Room, Sonoita, AZ

“It’s sort of like watching one of those TV series. You know, like the Sopranos or the Walking Dead. You watch it, you like it, but every season, somebody’s gonna die.”

The analogy made me laugh out loud. That was Todd Bostock, also known as the Allaround Wineworker at Dos Cabezas Wineworks addressing a Saturday afternoon lunch crowd about the topic of farming in Southern Arizona. It’s hot. It’s dry. And sometimes, if you’re one of the lucky survivors, those are the perfect conditions to do something exquisite.

We made the 3 hour trek south to the Tasting room in order to pick up our allotment and to try something that Todd was excited about. A few years ago,he and his wife, Kelly traveled   to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where they had an encounter with a Macedonian wine expert who, after looking at the photos of their Sonoita and Kansas Settlement vineyards, said, “you should plant a vranec.” Apparently, in the Republic of Macedonia, vranec is the most important variety of grape.

Then, in a moment of fate, Todd & Kelly received an email from a fellow winemaker letting them know that the University of California at Davis had Vranec. They bought all of the 16 certified cuttings and immediately started to graft them to the vines in their Cimarron Vineyard in Kansas Settlement. 2015 yielded their first Vranec harvest and Todd and Kelly are hopeful that the grape will endure in the high-desert Southwest.

There appear to be several benefits to this variety of grapes. First, it buds later than other varieties which might help it avoid the late spring freeze of Southern Arizona. The grape also has a thick skin, which Todd described as almost like a sausage casing.That might be useful in Southern Arizona when monsoon season hits or the occasional hail storm spits ice balls at the fruit. From a winemaker perspective, the intense color and the remaining acidity are a bonus.

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The first fruit of their labor produced a tiny taste of grape juice – translate that to wine. This was hand harvested, fermented in two 5 gallon buckets and hand pressed through cheesecloth. Then it was aged again in a 4 gallon glass carboy and yes, we got to be part of the party to drink those 4 gallons. Todd put it in a keg on tap and paired it with barbecue (which was advised by the Balkan wine marketing people).

On hand was Jason Miko, the honorary Macedonian consulate to Arizona to welcome the group. I do not believe there was a drop remaining.

 

Todd & Kelly Bostock have been named among The San Francisco Chronicle’s “10 Winemakers to Watch for 2015” 

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26 Comments

  1. Sounds tasty. I make a little wine here and there. Would have loved to have taken a taste of your hand picked, home made variety.

    Tim

    Reply
    • It was truly worthy. It will be fun to see what they do with this next year and in years to come.

      Reply
  2. Fascinating article. Very envious of your experience. I was part of the very first Sonoita tasting years ago at the UA Cambell-Avenue Farmin Tucson when Gordon Dutt first started making wine in that area. It wasn’t all that great but in the 30 or so intervening years, all the winemakers and growers in that area have continued to learn and improve and now their wines are consistent award winners.

    Reply
    • I’m so honored that you read this blog Carolyn. AND to know that you were part of it all when this fledgling industry, now estimated over $50 million, started up. We stopped in Tucson on the way back and were impressed with the continuous upgrades in your downtown area.

      Reply
  3. Glad you were able to attend this keg party!

    Reply
  4. Wow, just wow! What an amazing story and how blessed you were able to partake in the tasting. Arizona is fortunate to have Todd and Kelly growing a great wine. Wishing them continued success! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • I’m guessing that you’re pretty close to FnB where they serve Dos Cabezas wines.

      Reply
      • Yes! I subscribed to Steadfast Farm CSA for the past 6 months and plan to renew for the October Fall CSA. I walk to FNB to pick up my yummy CSA Box. Treated myself to dinner at FnB but did not try the wine; will make it a must the next time.

        Reply
  5. Wow, nice you could be part of this. Best of luck to them with this grape.

    Reply
  6. Great story, and lucky you getting to be among those to taste the first vintage!

    Reply
  7. Sally

     /  May 30, 2016

    Envy, and appreciation. My first bottle of Chateauneauf-du-pape was in Sunriver, Oregon at the new Lodge. 1973! A memory I will never forget and the most wonderful wine I still celebrate on occasions of spectacular. So glad to have your story and this wonderful in-sight of what is in store for us in Arizona!

    Reply
  8. This is a grape variety I’ve not heard of. I will look out for it when we are in Europe. So amazing you could be a part of this experience 😀

    Reply
  9. Yum! Love me a good wine now! And I’ve always been interested in wine and wine making. We have Sula Vineyards here in India where one can go and get some vine love and taste the wines as well…some of them I’ve found to be quite good. Never tasted Chateauneauf-du-papea though. Ive been planning to make wine at home for ages now… so in India, during Christmas, a friend’s mom makes this amazing red wine- it’s got hints of spices and vanilla…I have no idea how she does that but this year I’ll find out!

    Reply
    • Of course you would have wine in India! I have not had any before but in the drier parts of your country I can imagine that growing conditions are just right.

      Reply
  10. great story, Tammy. What fun that you got to be a part of the celebratory tasting! Hope you are doing well with your studies. Nancy

    Reply
  11. What a wonderful trick of fate! And how lucky you were to be able to help celebrate it! I didn’t know wine was even made in Arizona…

    Reply
  12. Sounds like it would have been a wonderful barbecue. I hope you did well in your exams. I am awaiting my results! xx

    Reply

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