In 2009 we traveled to Argentina to celebrate Philip’s 50th birthday. We fell in love with the region’s Malbec wines and bought a small vineyard in the Uco Valley, just south of Mendoza. The hot sun, ample water supply and high desert soils produced luscious wines that exploded with flavor. We were hooked!
We returned home and couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Argentina and Arizona. Was it possible we’d forgotten to look in our own backyard? With a little research, here’s what we discovered:
- Uco Valley, Argentina lies at 33 degrees South Latitude
- Willcox, Arizona lies at 33 degrees North Latitude
- Neither region has a marine influence
- Both have a high temperature amplitude (difference between daytime highs and nighttime lows)
- Both have similar soils
- Both have large underground acquifers
Uco Valley lies at the foot of the Andes Mountains
- Willcox lies at the foot of the Chiricahua Mountains
- Both have high desert climates at over 3,500 feet in altitude
What else could we do? We had to try and grow Malbec in Arizona! But we didn’t stop there. We decided to also plant the Rhone varieties of Viognier, Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah, Petite Syrah and Counoise which also benefit from the Arizona sun and terroir.