Southern Arizona wineries call crops "best in years"
SONOITA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The last two years have been devasting for Southern Arizona vineyard owners as a frost-laden spring paired with heavy monsoon simply wiped out winery crops across wine country in Arizona.
Kent Callaghan is the owner of Callaghan Vineyards in Sonoita, Arizona. He said last year's crops were so minimal that he had to purchase grapes from wine mecca, Northern California.
"Well to put it into perspective for most people it would be like going to work for two years and not getting paid," Callaghan said.
This year is a different story, thanks in part to a mild spring and a surplus of sunshine.
"This season has just been a dream really," said Canelo Hills Winery co-owner, Tim Mueller.
Mueller said this year's crops are churning two to three times the amount produced in the 2011 season.
"You can ripen anything you want. You can pick it at your leisure. It's just a spectacular year," Mueller said.
"It's a large harvest too," Callaghan said. "Crop loads are high. But then the quality is also very high. So, those two things don't always go together."
Grape growers said the last fruitful year was 2009; even then, it doesn't compare to this year.
"I don't care if we got hailed on tomorrow," Callaghan said. "We would still have a great harvest."
With the surplus harvest comes a welcome boost in Sonoita's economy.
"Oh yeah. People that come down obviously tend to spend some money and [it] certainly bolsters the local economy--restaurants, hotels...everything," Callaghan said. "The spin off is enormous."