Not long after they were pruned, the vines at House Mountain Vineyard began showing delicate green material. While I photographed the vines, I had a few more questions for vineyard manager Jeff Hendricks from Page Springs Cellars.
Is there anything special about this year that you can tell from this point?
Nothing too special yet… we had a wet and mild winter. This might lead to uneven bud break because of the mild winter, or excessive growth and vigor because it was a wet winter, but we’ll have to see.
How do you deal with being in the desert…don’t the vines need access to water?
We’ve never dealt with a water shortage. Vines use less water per acre than most food crops and much less than grazing animals… they are desert plants and watered infrequently. The Page Springs area has natural springs and Oak Creek and healthy pumping wells; we’ll have water when many others in the state might not and planting vines is a very responsible use of the water resources.
Northern Arizona is obviously different from most wine grape growing regions – is that a good thing?
There’s a lot that makes this area special. We probably have bigger differences between day and night temperatures than anywhere on the planet that’s growing grape vines. This difference, called a diurnal shift, is often thought to give the eventual wine many of the subtle characteristics that make wine special.
Of course we have lots of sun which is great for grapes in so many ways.
Then there are our cold winters and monsoon rains which are problematic… but those who love doing this in Arizona see it all as positive and whether it’s good or bad it contributes in some way to the terroir and the general taste of Arizona wines.