Wine tasting in Arizona includes Verde Valley, Sonoita, Willcox wine trails

When considering the great wine grape growing regions of the world, Arizona probably doesn't come to mind.

However, Spanish Missionaries started producing wine in Arizona as far back as the 1700s.

Our high desert climate, which mimics that of Argentina – hot daytime temperatures that cool off at night – is the perfect recipe for wine grapes.

With more than 45 wineries in the state, people everywhere are beginning to recognize Arizona as an up and coming wine producer.

Arizona has three main wine producing areas with easy to navigate trails where you can tour and taste to your wine-loving heart's content: the Verde Valley Wine Trail, located in northern Arizona; the Sonoita Wine Trail, in southern Arizona; and the Willcox Wine Trail, located in southeastern Arizona.

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VERDE VALLEY WINE TRAIL

Located in beautiful northern Arizona, the Verde Valley Wine Trail invites wine enthusiasts to experience a destination rich in history, beauty, and the production of exquisite Arizona wines. There are four Arizona wineries and six tasting rooms on the Verde Valley Wine Trail that offer a variety of skillfully crafted wines to satisfy any wine taster's pallet. Every winery has its own unique personality and distinct wines for visitors to discover at each stop along the Wine Trail.

WHERE TO STAY: The Best Western Cottonwood Inn, a AAA Three Diamond property, has rooms available from $94 per night and includes a complimentary breakfast.

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SONOITA WINE TRAIL

Anchored by the small towns of Patagonia and Sonoita, the Sonoita wine trail region was primarily known as horse country until Dr. Gordon Dutt, a soil scientist, discovered that its red clay soil was nearly identical to that of the Cote D'Or in Burgundy, France. He planted the first experimental vineyard in 1973 and opened his Sonoita Vineyards a decade later. Since then, about a dozen other wineries have cropped up in the area, which earned its own appellation (federal designation of a unique wine-producing area): Sonoita.

WHERE TO STAY: Bed and Breakfasts, such as La Hacienda de Sonoita, are available. Rates vary.

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WILLCOX WINE TRAIL

Located in Southeastern Arizona, the Willcox area produces the highest quantity of grapes in Arizona. Just one hour east of Tucson you can sample award winning, unique and fascinating wines from the area. Whatever your tastes may be – serious and bold reds, vibrant and crisp whites, dry, spicy, subtle, or sweet – you'll find the perfect wine on the Willcox Wine Trail.

WHERE TO STAY: The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Willcox, a AAA Three Diamond property, has rooms available from $82 per night and includes a free, hot breakfast.

To plan your vacation to the vineyards of Arizona, call 877-870-9408 or visit AZ.AAA.com/travel .

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