Booze News: September 2014

All the news that’s fit to drink

September 1, 2014

DrinkIssue 8: September/October 2014

Locally brewed craft beer fans will have another reason to rejoice when Pueblo Vida Brewing opens Aug. 29 at 115 E. Broadway Blvd. Starting with a Northwest IPA, a Bavarian Hefeweizen, and a Breakfast Stout, the new brewer, who has deep hospitality roots in Tucson—his great grandmother owned and built The Shelter—will eventually feature eight beers, two of which will rotate seasonally. In addition, BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs will have a permanent stand in front of the brewery.

Good news for Yuma: Beer has found its craft. As of August 29, Prison Hill Brewing Company will be refreshing this desert city at the confluence of Mexico, California, and Arizona with fresh, local brews. From the couple that started Yuma’s Pint House, the first bar with craft brews on tap, plus a University of Arizona alum as brewmaster, the brewery will honor its desert heritage—as well as the tradition of its namesake building, the old (now-shuttered) Territorial Prison.

If local brew is bubbling, then local wine is positively brimming. Two new family-run wineries opened their doors this summer in Willcox: Sierra Bonita Vineyards and Bodega Pierce Winery & Tasting Room.

The family behind Bodega Pierce has been making wine for two years, selling their bottles through Four Eight Winework’s tasting room in Clarkdale; they finally opened the doors of their Willcox tasting room this May. Father-and-son team Dan and Michael Pierce studied viticulture at University of California at Davis and Washington State, returning home to Arizona to grow their grapes. While Dan and his wife, Barbara, manage the vineyard, Michael will be stepping into the new role as director of the enology program at the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College in Clarkdale. (In case you’re wondering but didn’t want to ask, “enology” refers to the study of all aspects of winemaking except growing and harvesting grapes, which falls under the rubric of “viticulture.”) 4011 E. Robbs Road, Willcox.

Sierra Bonita Vineyards owner Jeff Smith jokes that their winery is so family run, even their kids help out. And with an enologist sister working in Napa flying down to consult on their production, the family is poised to make some good wine. They’ve been at it since 1996, when they planted their first vines in Willcox, “but it was a sort of make-your-own wine situation,” says Smith. “Eventually we got good enough that we decided we might be able to sell it.” Evidently, they weren’t the only ones who thought so—their 2009 Syrah took silver at last year’s Arizona Winegrowers Festival at the Farm. Visit their Tucson tasting room to try a sip (but not too soon, as it’s closed for harvest until October). 6720 E. Camino Principal, Suite 101.

Farther down the road, New Zealand filmmaker-turned-winemaker Sam Pillsbury of Pillsbury Wine Company has started construction on its own crush facility on the 100-acre vineyard 13 miles south of Willcox. Although Pillsbury has been making 100 percent locally sourced wines since he first planted vines in Willcox in 2000, he’d been making wines under custom crush contracts with local wineries. No longer. “The new facility will give us the opportunity to complete the circle, and actually make and age the wine right here where the grapes are grown,” he said. Pillsbury Wine Company also grows its own organic fruits and vegetables, eggs, poultry, sheep, and goats, which it supplies to select area restaurants. 6540 S. Bennett Place.

September can still be sweltering in Tucson; take the edge off the back-to-school blues with new go-cone drinks at Good Oak Bar. The Melo Yelo is made from a malvasia base, with canary, kincho, blueberry, honey, apple, citrus, and a zinfandel float; the Pink Panther starts with a rosé and zinfandel base and ends with strawberry, mango, jicama, pluot, citrus, and agave, with a Vienna lager float. Topped with a bouquet of fresh herbs—mint and basil, respectively—they’re bound to brighten your step. 316 E. Congress St.

If you’re looking for a bounce in your step of the less alcoholic, more caffeinated variety, swing by Stella Java at the Mercado San Agustin, where they’ll soon be roasting their own beans under the name Presta Coffee Roasters. “We’re also going to be geeking out on new brewing equipment,” says owner Curtis Zimmerman. One such drink to emerge from their geekery: The nitrous cold brew, which, emerging from a nitrous tap, comes with a creamy head, much like a nitrous brew. It’s a delicious way to get another kind of buzz. 100 S. Avenida del Convento, Suite 180. 520.777.1496.

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