Mitch Levy and Corey Turnball, owners of Burning Tree Cellars, gave their winery its name because of the magical being that is the circle of life. Trees often denote new opportunities, wishes and growth, while the symbol of burning can indicate strong emotions. It was all about new beginnings.
Levy, a retired paramedic and a man of many interests, entered the wine business in 2007. He was no stranger to good food and wine. He was also a chef at The Dilworthtown Inn in Pennsylvania, a quaint historic restaurant, the kind of style emulated by Burning Tree. It’s described as a place to savor incredible tastes, welcoming smiles and the most memorable moments of your life.
Cottonwood, Arizona has come a long way in terms of destination spots, and is now one of the main tourism attractions for our state’s wine industry. The cozy cigar bar atmosphere (minus the cigar) of the Burning Tree Cellars tasting room adds character to charming Main Street. What a wonderful place for men and women who love wine, history and weekend getaways. I asked Levy what he would tell people living in the Valley about Arizona wines. “Come to Cottonwood. It’s a cool place to hang out. We have four tasting rooms, great hotels, and fine dining.” Let’s not forget it is also home to the Verde Canyon railroad!
Burning Tree has had its wines in some of the finest dining establishments in Phoenix and Sedona. They look forward to more exposure in restaurants in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. Burning Tree Colibri Vineyard Syrah from 2010, along with the 2010 Page Spring Cellars Colibri Syrah Clone 174, earned a 90 point rating from Wine Spectator, the first to come from the state. This is one of the highest accomplishments a region can achieve for one of its wines.
Additionally, they are quite proud of their Pinot Noir wine called “The Poet.” Although Pinot Noir is a finicky thin skinned grape not well suited for desert climate, a good winemaker can source the grapes elsewhere and do the winemaking here in Arizona.
“We make a large portion of our wines from grapes grown here in Arizona, but will occasionally go outside of the state. We want to get the finest fruit from the best possible sources. We just want to make outstanding wines. Pinot Noir is a fantastic wine that pairs with almost any food” said Levy.
They make quite a bit of Bordeaux and Rhone style wines of France as well. These are the types of grapes that really thrive here in Arizona soils. They now average about 1,200 cases a year and just started a wine club which will include two releases each year.
The unique Tarot card theme labels on their bottles seem to tell a story, allowing the wines to express themselves prior to a sniff or a taste. Different artists come up with original ideas for every label, and the same artwork decorates the walls inside the tasting room. Outside, with couches and plenty of flowers, they have one of the best patios in Cottonwood. Located at 1040 N. Main St., it sits right in the heart of town, which is great for sipping and people watching. They have music on Friday and Saturdays, which makes for a perfect night out for any group or couple.
I encourage you to make a trip up north, meet Mitch and Corey, and continue to explore our state’s wine industry! Check out their website: burningtreecellars.com.
– East Valley resident Darla S. Hoffmann is a certified specialist of wine and the owner of About Wine. She offers wine education, tastings and classes. Reach her at 480-540-7555 or at Aboutwine@mail.com.