The art of making wine has much in common with having a baby. Both creations bring joy and happiness yet are fallible existences that will endure many trials and tribulations throughout its lifetime.
I have the pleasure of doing weekly wine tastings in LDV Winery’s Scottsdale tasting room. Curt Dunham and Peggy Fiandaca are the owners of the award-winning LDV Wine Gallery and Lawrence Dunham Vineyards. Dunham often shares stories about their journey. When he speaks of this transition of life, the expression on his face is one of a proud parent. There were risks associated with starting and developing their vineyard. However, the second they laid eyes on the unique 40 acres of land in southeastern Arizona, in the Chiricahua Mountain region, it became their baby. It had luscious volcanic soil, the water tested well for grapes and no agriculture had previously been grown on the land.
The land, very different from any other plot, was destined to share its character with the world. They agreed to adopt the 100 percent estate philosophy which meant all grapes would be grown, produced and bottled on the property. Grapes exposed to UV, at this altitude and with this terrain, have the potential to be like the big fruit wonder grapes of the Rhone Valley in France.
“It would be an injustice not to grow what we knew would truly thrive here,” Dunham said.
They made the commitment to grow quality grapes and Dunham took on the winemaker job himself. No nannies in their house! The first crop came earlier than they had anticipated and by 2009 LDV produced 100 cases of wine. The 2015 harvest has nearly 3,000 cases. The 2016 is considerably lower due to a change in pruning practices to improve long-term vine sustainability.
Their 2013 crop is just coming onto them market. This month, LDV released the 2013 The Signature. This is the fourth consecutive vintage, the Road Block of Petite Sirah produced high quality fruit worthy of showcasing on its own and receiving “The Signature” designation. The wine shows amazing concentration of color and flavors.
I asked Dunham what he expected to see from this vintage and how it might differ from the previous ones.
“In 2013, it was a challenging harvest as we experienced several rain events,” he said. “Thanks to the diligence of our picking and crush pad crews, the 2013 wines turned out great considering weather conditions. Each year the wines will express the life of that vintage. If you like a vintage, get it, because next year will be different. That’s the philosophy of a true boutique winery.”
They wanted to establish a wider, well-deserved presence for their talented scholar. So, they decided to bring pieces of their vineyard to the Valley. In 2014, the LDV Winery Tasting Room Gallery opened in downtown Scottsdale, 6951 E. 1st St. They host monthly supper club with a wine driven menu and wine appreciation events to showcase their wines and meet people in the community. They host holiday parties, family events and are working with nearby resorts for corporate workshops. The gallery and its charming patios give you a feeling of home, yet exudes the presence of a vineyard with its trees, barrels and rocks from their soil. It’s where neighbors come to hang out, cook beautiful meals together and share the finest of wine. It is truly exquisite.
Their Sky Islander Wine Club is a great way to taste all the wines and feel the Rhone style without leaving the country. They have several packages to include six bottles or 12 bottles per year coupled with tasting vouchers. Being a part of something like this is so special because you are sharing a dream. After all, it takes a village to raise a boutique winery!
LDV winery has joined forces with the other four tasting rooms in downtown Scottsdale to create the Scottsdale Wine Trail. You can now spend the day tasting wine in downtown Scottsdale and experience five different wineries. They are all within walking distance. There are plenty of hotels nearby if a staycation is on your radar. If you prefer a day trip, Uber and limo services are available. Eric Emmert, azurbanwinetours.com, has a limo service in the East Valley and does day trips to Scottsdale and Sedona. Dunham and Fiandaca are also very interested in building relationships with local restaurants that are serious about good food and wine.
“I always have food in mind while making my wines,” Dunham said. “I smell the grapes and think, what am I going to eat with this?”
Whatever each vintage brings, you can be sure Dunham and Fiandaca will make every effort to create a masterpiece. They are assiduous in treating their vineyard with ultimate respect and are proudly watching it evolve each year. Some vintages might yield grapes that release soft, subtle flavors, while others will be bold and outspoken. For LDV, youth is divine with a promising adulthood. I encourage you to experience the growth of these wines. In my opinion, they exhibit a lively spirit with a softhearted old soul.
– East Valley resident Darla Hoffmann is a certified specialist of wine and sommelier. She is the owner of About Wine, a wine education company, where she does on-site tastings and classes at restaurants, home parties and corporate events. She also works part time in one of Arizona’s award-winning tasting rooms, LDV Wine Gallery in Scottsdale. A member of The Wine Century Club, she has tasted over 100 grape varietals. Her goal is to share her knowledge and passion for wine, while educating our readers on the booming wine industry in the state of Arizona. If you are a wine collector looking for tastings and storage in the Valley, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at: www.aboutwineinaz.com.