The voyage of life can be much like that of a tumbleweed. We break away from our roots and go where the wind takes us. We might get stuck when there are obstacles in our way, but when we come across wide-open spaces, we can’t be stopped. This is the story of two determined husband and wife teams and their road trip to Chateau Tumbleweed.
The four owners, Kris Pothier, Joe Bechard, Kim Koistinen and Jeff Hendricks met around 12 years ago working at Page Springs Cellars in Cornville, Arizona. Kim and Jeff had been in the industry for some time but up until then Kris and Joe had only considered themselves cellar rats. All four of them played different roles, honed their skills and gained an incredible amount of knowledge. For a period of time thereafter, each of them explored various opportunities at different vineyards, wineries and careers in the arts in addition to Page Springs.
The talented foursome drew attention from prominent winemakers, and were quite possibly being recognized as the future of Arizona wines. Youth combined with ambition make for a promising marriage in the wine industry. Maynard Keenan, owner of Caduceus cellars and former rock star, saw great things in these wind travelers and approached them about making their own wine at his Four Eight Wineworks co-op. This is a facility he created to allow winemakers with a high level of skill, but not a hefty bank account, to make wine. It is a shared space with a press, destemmer, crush equipment, bottling line and fermentation tanks all funded by Keenan. Keenan was faced with some legality issues at first because rotating use in one location was not specifically allowed under Arizona state law. Therefore, his guinea pigs had to make wine under Keenan’s Caduceus license. The laws were changed in 2014 and Four Eight Wineworks now runs as a true cooperative. Chateau Tumbleweed made three vintages there never losing sight of their goal to open their own winery. All four owners worked other jobs while breathing life into Tumbleweed at the co-op. The Petznick family, owners of the historic D.A. Ranch in Cornville, took notice of their hard work as well and not only extended employment, but invested in their solo operation.
In 2015, Chateau Tumbleweed broke roots from Four Eight and took their own building on Highway 89A. They’ve done two harvests on their own and are already seeing a need for expansion on their property. When asked how they came up with the name for their winery, Pothier said: “We had no intent to be in Arizona or in wine. We kind of got stuck in the fence of the wine industry.” They are expressing their appreciation of freedom by experimenting with different winemaking styles, varietals, types of oak, and yeast. They also use fun labels with ornate drawings incorporating the tumbleweed.
I had the pleasure of tasting their 2015 “Miss Sandy Jones” Chardonnay and Verdelho blend, along with their fresh and spicy 2015 “Cimarron Vineyard” Graciano made in whole cluster fermentation. Additionally, Pothier and her benevolent character, sent me home with the 2015 “Will E. Cox” red blend and the 2014 “Cimarron Vineyard” Tempranillo. There is an embodiment of cutting-edge style to their wines as well as their individual personalities. They are staying true to who they are as well.
“We take our winemaking very seriously, but not ourselves. We like to have fun and take out the ‘snobby’ of wine,” said Bechard.
As they tumble into new ideas, they are spreading their seeds across Arizona, guaranteeing that there will be more tumbleweeds in the future. They don’t have their own vineyard yet but this is something they are hoping to roll into as well. For now, they source from 10 different vineyards mostly in Willcox in Southeast Arizona. So, as the song goes, “As tumbling tumbleweeds go, they have plans of drifting along with nowhere and everywhere to go, pledging their love to the ground, and leaving the cares of the past behind.”
Chateau Tumbleweed Winery and Tasting room is located at 1151 AZ-89A, Clarkdale, Arizona 86324. Visit their website at www.chateautumbleweed.com to learn more or purchase their wines online.
– 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.