(ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV)---Just two hours north of Phoenix, just off east Highway 260, there is a unique place. On one side of the road, desert brown. On the other, lush green covered by a canopy of cottonwoods. The vineyard is a petite Shiraz, and they’ve already started to bud and also, it’s starts making clusters right away. It’s under this white canopy where Ignacio Mesa tends his vines. It’s called the Clear Creek Winery.
Mesa said that he’ll start to see grapes in about a week, and in a month, the vines will reach up nearly two feet. They grow very fast. These ten and a half acres make up the Clear Creek Winery. But the land wasn’t always so ripe.
It was originally used as a horse and cattle pasture dating back to 1875. That all changed when Ignacio bought the property in 1999 and started plowing. “When I started doing that, one of my neighbors that lives just next door here, he asked me “what are you doing? You’re tearing up the place” I told him, “well I’m going to plant some wine grapes,” Mesa said.
And that was the start of the first vineyard in Camp Verde. Not only is it an organic, estate winery, it’s also a sustainable farm. Right after harvest, and we plant crops that put nitrogen into the soil. The property came with water rights to west Clear Creek.
Mesa said he uses it to fill a fish pond from which he irrigates the vineyard with the now nitrogen-rich water. "You’re going to be drinking a wine that doesn’t have a lot of sulfides in it, and it’s just going to taste better because of that. And of course, you can’t have a farm without a few working animals. He uses geese and chickens to eat the weeds and bugs. And I also have two great Pyrenees that I used to protect my geese and chickens from the raccoons and the coyotes. I put everyone to work [laughs]. They all play their part in protecting the grapes," he said.
Wine making starts on the vine, and not in the winery. You cannot make good wine with bad grapes. So, this is nice and fresh, it’s crisp, fruit-forward, it pairs well by itself. In the packed tasting room, wine lovers are eager to taste clear creeks latest vintage. Very, very nice, very nice on the palate. Very bold, it has a nice, it just grabs the taste buds right at the back of your tongue and it’s just refreshing. Perfect on a hot afternoon. It’s the right blend of Arizona sun, soil and science. The book study is one thing, the thumbing and the wine making stuff is a different thing. So you have to, you learn as you go.