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Our Story

 Innovating in Arizona Since 1990
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Founder, Kent Callaghan, on the founding of the winery:

My parents (Harold and Karen) and I planted our Buena Suerte Vineyard in May/June of 1990. Our planting happened to coincide with a vicious heat wave, one consequence of which was that Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix was shut down for a few days. Nobody had tested passenger jets at temperatures over 120F. But it was only 105F in Elgin …Needless to say, we lost a few (thousand) vines.

This experience set the stage for what would become the Callaghan M.O. – replanting – always with an eye toward grape varieties and rootstocks better suited to our arid, windy, sun-bleached region. So, over many years, we have tossed out our original Bordeaux mindset and moved to one rooted in the Mediterranean. Spanish varieties, in particular, seem best-suited to our site – Graciano, Mourvedre, Grenache. We have found that one Bordeaux variety, Petit Verdot, provides us with a distinctive spicy/peppery/meaty blending component. Finally, Tannat, a black, burly variety from just north of the Pyrenees, has shown itself to be well-adapted to southeastern Arizona’s terroir. As for white wine, we have only one estate white now – Lisa’s – a blend of Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Malvasia Bianca, Clairette and Petit Manseng. The object is to produce an uncommonly nuanced white wine with great freshness and flavor "chew". With all of our wines, our primary concerns are depth of flavor and complexity. Textural considerations are secondary and best addressed by appropriate cellaring and/or food pairing.

Approximately 85%of our time is spent working in the vineyard. Any discussion with any serious wine producer in the world is always dominated by viticultural details and the weather patterns of any given vintage. Wine potential is determined in the vineyard. So our winemaking approach is decidedly simplistic –no gizmos, lots of barrels (new to fifteen years old), aging on the lees and little racking.

From our first vintage in 1991, our wines have received accolades from the most respected wine writers & publications in the world: Robert Parker, Decanter, Karen MacNeil, Oz Clarke, Tom Stevenson, The Wall Street Journal. 


Accolades

CALLAGHAN VINEYARDS HAS BEEN HONORED BY HAVING ITS WINE SERVED AT THE WHITE HOUSE FOUR TIMES:

  • Callaghan 2013 Caitlin’s, a Petit Verdot based blend, was served at the White House Governors Dinner, January 2017

  • Callaghan 2004 Claire’s, a blend of Mourvedre, Syrah and Petite Sirah, was served at President George W. Bush’s dinner for retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

  • Callaghan 1998 Buena Suerte Cuvee, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, was served in 2000 at President Bill Clinton’s last State Dinner with the Prime Minister of India.

  • Callaghan 1993 Buena Suerte Cuvee, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, was served in 1996 at a White House dinner for the Democratic National Committee.

  • In 2006 Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano designated Callaghan Vineyards as one of Arizona’s Treasures

  • Le Monde, The Parisian daily newspaper listed Callaghan Vineyards as one of six most interesting wineries/ winemakers in the United States. “Astonishing, concentrated and fruity wines. This pioneer symbolizes the spirit of the wines of the New World.”

  •  “Kent Callaghan’s mix of Mourvedre and Grenache from his home vineyard is astonishingly light on its feet: radiant fruit, grapefruit pith, black licorice and dust.” Jon Bonne – San Francisco Chronicle on Claire’s 2009

  • 2013 Jefferson Cup Competition: Tannat 2012 – Double Gold, Petit Verdot 2012 – Silver Medal, Graciano 2012 – Silver Medal, Mourvedre 2012 – Silver Medal

  • 2014 Arizona Republic Wine Competition: Tannat 2012 – Best Red and Best of Show, Padres 2012 – 2nd Place Red, Gold Medal and Best Red Blend, Back Lot 2012 – Gold Medal and 2nd Place Best Rhone Blend, Petit Verdot 2012 – Gold Medal, Al’s Syrah 2013 – Silver Medal, Buena Suerte 2012 – Bronze Medal, Lisa’s 2012 – Bronze Medal

  • USA Today  11/18/14 – “Embark on Arizona’s wild, wild west wine trail”

  • Arizona Daily Star 5/8/15 – “Tucson Makes List of Wine Country Destinations”

  • Vinepair 5/21/15 – “For Procrastinators Only: Last Minute Memorial Day Activities”

  • New York Magazine 6/19/15 – “Taste the Flavors of Tucson”

  • AZ Wine Lifestyle 10/15 – “Wine Research is Fun – Callaghan Vineyards”

  • Virgin Atlantic Blog 11/15 – “A Guide to Arizona Wine”

  • 2015 Arizona Republic Wine Competition: Ann’s Malvasia Bianca 2014 – Best White and Best of Show, Tannat 2013 – Gold Medal, Grenache 2013 and Grenache 2014 – Silver Medals, Ruth’s 2014 and Caitlin’s 2013 – First and Second place respectively Best Bordeaux Blend, Dry Grenache Rose’ 2014 – Bronze Medal

  • 2015 Jefferson Cup Competition: Tannat 2013 and Caitlin’s 2013 – Double Gold Medals, Grenache 2014, Padres 2012 and Padres 2013 – Gold Medals, Boda 2014 and Ann’s Malvasia Bianca 2014 – Silver Medals

  • Arizona Republic 2/1/16 – “New Arizona Wine Group Promotes Local Quality”

  • 2016 San Francisco International Wine Competition: Caitlin’s 2013 – Double Gold Medal and 98/100 points

  • Doug Wilder/Purely Domestic Wine Report: 2014 Grenache Rose’ 88/100, 2015 Ann’s Malvasia Bianca 91/100, 2014 Lisa’s 88/100, 2014 Ruth’s (CF/PV) 90/100, 2013 Padres (Graciano et al) 91/100, 2014 Boda (Graciano, Merlot, Tempranillo) 93/100, 2014 Grenache 90/100, Mourvedre 2014 92/100, 2013 Tannat 91/100

  • Edible Baja Nov/Dec 2016 – “A Tale of Two Harvests”

  • Jamessuckling.com 12/20/16 – “Arizona Is the Next Frontier of U.S. Winemaking”

  • 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition: Greg’s Petit Manseng 2015 – Double Gold Medal, Ann’s Malvasia Bianca 2015 – Gold Medal, Buhl Memorial Vyd Petit Verdot 2015 – Gold Medal

  • Wine Enthusiast 2/17 “Raising Arizona: Outsider Wines Travel to New Heights”

  • Doug Wilder/Purely Domestic Wine Report: 2016 Dry Rose’ 88/100, 2016 Waverly’s Dry Rose’ 89/100, 2016 Zippy White 88/100, 2015 Greg’s Petit Manseng 89/100, 2016 Ann’s Malvasia Bianca 91/100, 2015 Arizona Graciano 90/100, 2015 Cimarron Aglianico 92/100. “When I say that Purely Domestic Wine Report is dedicated to reviewing exclusively California, Oregon and Washington wines that is mostly, yet not completely accurate as every year Kent Callaghan sends me a jewel box of his wines from Sonoita, Arizona. Ignore the scores, they don’t convey why these wines are important to experience, or appreciate what Callaghan accomplishes by sustaining viticulture in one of the hottest regions in North America.”

  • FOOD & WINE 2017 Wine Guide: America’s 500 Best Wineries

  • FOOD & WINE 11/17 – “Where to Drink Like a Local in Every State”

  • 2017 Arizona Republic Wine Competition: Aglianico 2015 – Gold Medal and Best Red Wine, Ann’s Malvasia 2016 – Gold Medal.

  • 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition: Ann’s Malvasia Bianca 2016 – Double Gold Medal, AZ Dry Rose’ 2016 – Gold Medal, Aglianico 2015 and AZ Graciano 2015  – Silver Medals, Lisa’s 2016, Waverly’s Dry Rose’ 2016 and Mourvedre 2014 – Bronze Medals

  • jamessuckling.com 10/18: Padres 2016 92/100, Claire’s 2016 92/100

  • 2018 Jefferson Cup Competition: Love Muffin 2017 and Padres 2016 - Gold Medals. Aglianico 2016, Caitlin’s 2016, Greg’s Petit Manseng 2016, AZ Tannat 2016, Rhumb Line Tannat 2017 and Tempranillo 2016 - Silver Medals. Buena Suerte 2016 - Bronze Medal.

Come join us, relax and taste our wines. We’re just one hour south of Tucson, Arizona. Callaghan Vineyards is open to the public Thursday through Sunday, from 11- 4pm.

Callaghan Vineyards
Kent & Lisa Callaghan
Owners & Third Generation & Fourth Generation Tucsonans