Loving Grape Varietals
May 1st, 2014
Peggy Fiandaca

There are over 5,000 recognized wine grape varietals worldwide and at Lawrence Dunham Vineyards we chose to grow Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Viognier. These Vitis Vinifera (wine grapes) trace their most recent heritage to France’s Rhone region.
LDV Grenache Grape Varietal

Our land in the Chiricahua Mountain foothills at 5,000 feet above sea level has not hosted cultivated agricultural activities since the ancient people survived off the land growing corn and squash in the creeks. We are an ongoing experiment, and so far, so good.

I love wines that honor the grape varietals because of the direct reflection of the terroir where the grapes were grown. I can tell you when a wine is made from mountain fruit whether it is from Mount Veeder in Napa Valley, Purisima Mountain in Santa Barbara County, or along Rockpile Road high above Lake Sonoma. These wines are made from fruit that reflect the soils and unique mountain climates. No matter who the winemaker might be, those wines bring out an essence of place that speaks to me.

The artistry of making a truly exceptional wine starts with growing the best quality vines nurtured to embrace the natural environment of their locale. I believe the winemaking process is so much more than the winemaker’s juice blending skills. It is about how the winemaker honors the essence and integrity of the varietal.

A varietal wine (over 75% of one grape type) should reflect the varietal and the place it was grown with a little bit of the winemaker’s panache. For example, if Petite Sirah is on the label, it should be recognizable.

Since we are “covered wagon” wine grape farming, part of our quest is to find the best grapes to grow in this unique area to provide information to future generations of growers and winemakers. If we blend our wines so the varietals are undistinguishable, we will never be able to define Arizona’s signature grapes like Oregon Pinot Noir and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I believe that Arizona’s terroir can produce truly special and unique wines. I want Arizona to be known for quality wines produced from exceptional grape varietals grown in this state and not for juice blending from grapes sourced from other states. So ask what you are drinking and I encourage you to choose Arizona wines made from Arizona grapes.

Information about grape varietals is available on our website at this link.