“Stay Snobby Scottsdale”—I knew there was something special about Desert Rock Winery as soon as the quippy catchphrase caught my eye. Straining to recall fuzzy memories from a recent Napa Valley vacay, I wanted to know more about the only federally licensed winery in the Metro-Phoenix area.
Tucked within an industrial/office setting in the Scottsdale Airpark, Desert Rock Winery (DRW) is clearly not situated on a secluded country lane surrounded by magnificent vineyards. I wasn’t foolish enough to expect a viticultural mecca when I approached the nondescript building (such a snob) however, when I stepped into the facility the Napa flashbacks grew crystal clear (what happens in Napa stays in Napa) and suddenly felt the urge to swirl and sniff.
Paul Hoffman, DRW’s founder and vino extraordinaire greeted me with a big smile, grounding me back on solid Scottsdale soil as we toured through his winery. DRW is a full scale urban winery and wine tasting room offering spirits, ciders, and 14 blends of white and red wine. Bottles range in price from $10 to $95 and a portion of proceeds benefit local charities. While wine is the biggest draw, Hoffman told me hard cider is the newest trend in fermented alcoholic beverages and yes, he makes his own. DRW’s Headbanger Hard Cider is $30 for a two-pack and tastes as yummy as it smells. Many DRW’s wines are offered and served at restaurants and bars across the Valley—with the Headbanger and Desert Rock Winery labels the most ubiquitous of the bunch.
As we made our way into the facility’s barrel cellar I asked Hoffman to share his extensive industry expertise with me and I couldn’t resist asking why in the world he left Napa Valley. He explained his love for Arizona (weather, healthy lifestyle, scenery) kept bringing him back “home.” With sixteen years in the wine biz, he honed his expertise in the industry working sales to education positions and eventually became a winemaker in 2002. Hoffman’s desire to create a true wine experience in an urban setting, and his love for AZ created the perfect blend for DRW’s opening in 2015. Lucky us!
As a federally licensed winery, DRW does it all—grape to fermentation to bottle. Hoffman obtains his grapes primarily from Wilcox, Arizona and Sonoyta, Mexico while overseeing each production step along the way.
If camaraderie and community is your thing, the Desert Rock Wine Society is the winery’s members only club (pardon, not just a club—a lifestyle). Happy hour is open to all on Friday evenings and includes wine offerings, nibbles (think yummy breads and Sogno Toscano Olive Oil), cornhole tourneys, and live music.
Music is big at Desert ROCK Winery. A metal band lover, (Headbanger wine = clever) Hoffman created a music promotion program for artists who often play at DRW. Hoffman also promised me I get first go once karaoke nights begin (Total Eclipse of the Heart all the way!). Decade themed wine parties and kid-friendly outdoor concerts are also on the agenda as fall weather approaches.
Open to the public, monthly educational seminars and private wine tastings round out typical DRW offerings. The winery also accommodates private, and/or company events.
After sampling a full-bodied red and toasting to connoisseurs of finer things, I thanked Hoffman for the tour and unequivocally understood why wine is his forte.
Cheers to Desert Rock Winery! It’s wine o’clock somewhere!