Happy Monday everybody! Movie review today for all you Tool, Pucifer and Perfect Circle fans. Blood Into Wine review.
“Blood Into Wine” Documentary: Rock ‘n Roll Meets Winemaking
Jerome, Arizona; A small, quaint mountain town that is rocky, hilly, and what some are calling the “new Napa”. Among those that have taken to its soil is multiplatinum recording artist Maynard James Keenan, owner of Caduceus Winery and Merkin Vineyards. Keenan, with his hard-rock, heavy voice and crass personality, is not who most would consider the face of the American wine industry. So what brought Keenan and many others out to the hot desert of Northern Arizona to cultivate wine? For starters, consider the novelty of it; Places like Napa, Sonoma, and the Willamette Valley are well known, established, and bursting with vineyards. As a new winemaker looking for a place to lay roots (pun intended), why set up camp right in the middle of the big players with multi-million-dollar production facilities and land when you can be a part of an up-and-coming region that could be the future of American wine? On that note, if that new winemaker happens to be a button-pushing recording artist, that’s even more to talk about!
More importantly, though, is the unique interest that Maynard had in getting into the wine industry. Many celebrities are known to get involved a variety of expensive hobbies, but this isn’t simply that. Maynard’s impetus to start producing wine was more than just an interest; it was a passion that developed into a love. Maynard describes how his developed interest was really a moment of self-discovery. In his own words, “something clicked”. Maynard Keenan isn’t just hiring out all his labor, however. Instead he gets his own hands dirty. With this, he has learned a significant amount about the vinicultural needs of the vines. Through the years, he has also become much more concerned with sustainable farming practices, including thoughtful water usage, which is a hot-button topic in the water-starved American Southwest.
Northern Arizona wine country isn’t what many think as the typical Arizona Landscape, however. Most of us picture endless rust-colored dirt, tall, mean-looking succulents, and tumbleweeds galore. In the Northern region near Jerome, however, the landscape changes drastically. Here there is significantly more green, and forests complete with deciduous and evergreen trees. In fact, more of the problems relating to temperature in this region are actually cold-related as compared to the sweltering heat of the low Phoenix valley. The dry, porous soil, gentle slopes, and more temperate climate is highly conducive to grape-growing, which is why many of those who are interested in getting into the industry are so drawn to the area. Unlike land in America’s most renowned wine-growing regions, land in northern Arizona is significantly less expensive. Napa Valley land will cost an aspiring wine-maker nearly half a million per acre. Compare that to northern Arizona land, which averages under $50,000 an acre. This isn’t to say that vineyards can be run on pennies when in Arizona, but it does go to show just how much of a “best kept secret” the region is. As it stands, to the general public, Arizona vineyards may as well be “growing wine on the moon”. This is bound to change, however, as many major makers have taken trips to this new region to scope out prospective land. For Maynard Keenan, this means that Caduceus Winery may be considered one of the flagship establishments of the next great American wine region.
Obviously wine grown in the Verde Valley of Northern Arizona is still in its early years, and decades more of cultivation, tweaking, and word-of-mouth marketing are needed to consider this area “well-established”. As many wine-lovers know, mature vines tend to produce a much more steady crop and more stable flavor. As it is right now, most makers in the Verde
Valley are making blends in order to “tinker” with the volatile flavors of the many young grapes that are currently being grown. Most of the time, these blends contain some grapes that are not even grown in Arizona. For example, one of the first wines ever conceived by Maynard at Caduceus Winery is “Premer Paso”, meaning “first step”. It is a soft, aromatic blend of both red and white grapes; a unique blend indeed.
Over time, we may see a greater number of varietal bottles come out of this region, yet this is not currently the case. However, the first step to full varietal production was the bottling of the first Caduceus wine with 100% northern Arizona grapes on April 10, 2009. As Maynard puts it, all of the elements of the northern Arizona landscape came together to produce a wine that is “far less California” than anticipated, and much closer to something that comes from the Left Bank of the Bordeaux in France. This is intriguing, as some of the finest Old World wines come from the Left Bank, and are well-loved worldwide. Not to mention, most of those vines are by no means young, and have decades of weather and soil in their roots. For Arizona winemakers like Maynard Keenan, this is a promising future, and a distinguishing factor that sets these wines apart from their next door neighbors in California. Especially with the institution of French wine tariffs and the inevitable surge in import wine prices, this may mean that the “next best thing” is a Northern Arizona wine with similar flavor characteristics.
Try it out: For those of us who have tasted an Arizona wine, may we be considered the trailblazers!