2007 marked an important year in wine history with the coming together of two men who launched Arizona into the fine wine scene. Eric Glomski (Founder of Page Springs Cellars and previously Winemaker at David Bruce Winery), Maynard Keenan (Owner of Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards & Orchards) are now together under the banner of Arizona Stronghold Vineyards.
Keenan and Glomski, founders of the Company, knowing that quality fruit is the key to all winemaking endeavors, set out to transform the ageing Dos Cabezas Vineyard near Willcox, Arizona into a top notch, high quality effort. Poorly performing varietals were ripped up or grafted over in the first year, and several acres of new plantings have already been planted. The core of the red plantings are Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo and Sangiovese with Viognier and Malvasia Bianca anchoring the white plantings. (Several other varietals also supplement these grapes.)
Hello, my name is Tim White. I rarely, if ever, talk or write about myself, so maybe the best way for me to proceed is to give a little background information and how that led to my coming to be part of the Stronghold and Page Springs family.
I fell in love with wine early in life, but never considered it as a career option, (I figured, I’ll be a wino while doing a bunch of stuff for a living that I’d rather not do). Fast forward several years to 2003, most of my immediate family moved from Raleigh, North Carolina to southwest Virginia. After visiting a few times, they took me to a local winery. Well, I became what some of my family and friends (depending on who you talk to) would refer to as very passionate, a little extreme, to outright obsessed. I begged for a job, and after a few volunteer bottling sessions, I was thrown into Harvest of 2004. I was completely overwhelmed, but realized immediately that I loved this insane process.
Over the next three years, I absorbed everything I could from work and my own pursuits of wine education. I also began to realize there was a growing void and I needed a change—something different. I will always have a deep appreciation for the training I received with my previous employer, but being an 80,000 case winery left little room for art, creativity, and the minimalist approach that I have for winemaking. And too many times, numbers were substituted for the most important part of all, tasting. So I made the decision to leave, sending my resume to all my favorite wineries, hoping to find a place to pursue my winemaking career around like-minded people with similar philosophies.
Following a bit of searching I came across an ad Eric posted. After a quick email to him, a few phone conversations, a visit to Arizona and Page Springs Cellars, the support of my partner and son, and listening to my intuition… I found exactly what I was looking for. (Thank-you, Eric.) I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity, and hope to be here for a long time to come, making my small contribution to what I strongly believe to be an amazing step in Arizona’s winemaking future, and continuing with Eric’s philosophy of making meaningful and lasting relationships in the community.
I will leave things by offering a favorite quote that sums up my love/obsession with wine, why it speaks to my soul, and how it has led me here.
“True quality is that which succeeds in surprising and moving us. It is not locked inside a formula. Its essence is subtle (subjective) and never rational. It resides in the unique, the singular, but it is ultimately connected to something more universal. A great wine is one in which quality is contained. Such a wine will necessarily be uncommon and decidedly unique because it cannot be like any other, and because of this fact it will be atypical, or typical only of itself.”- Andre Ostertag
Craig Martinsen grew up in central Massachusetts surrounded by orchards and often finding work at a local apple orchard. While studying in Arizona Craig focused on Agro-Ecology, Human Ecology and large format photography. These pursuits helped him develop an understanding of sustainable agriculture, organic farming practices, ancient farming techniques and a general curiosity of how we humans interact with the environments we are a part of. Craig supplemented his education by building strawbale & adobe homes integrated with Permaculture landscape design and alternative energy in northern New Mexico. After completing college, Craig put his studies of human ecology and a talent for working with computer based Geographic Information Systems to use while working for the NASA Sustainability and Global Change Program. While developing tools to assist communities with planning for growth, natural disasters, and sustainability, Craig witnessed through historic satellite images, growth projections and meeting with communities world-wide the dramatic loss of farm land.
This realization of how much farm land was being lost each year inspired him to go back to his agricultural roots to find an economic and environmentally sustainable crop to focus on. This exploration brought him to viticulture. Craig is currently the Director of Vineyard Operations for Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, focusing in the Willcox area. He has worked in Viticulture throughout Arizona since 2003 establishing and managing vineyards for Page Springs Vineyards, Merkin Vineyards and other private growers. In addition to viticulture Craig enjoys gardening, preparing fantastic foods from the garden and local farms, and enjoying wines produced from the vineyards he oversees with his family.
Eric’s love for wine grew during his previous profession as a vegetation and landscape ecologist. During a two year research project in Central Arizona, Eric harvested heirloom apples, pears, peaches and quince from abandoned homesteads that he came across in his field journeys. It was sniffing his first apple wine that led him to realize that wine is “liquid landscape”. More than just the fruit that was harvested, the wine somehow captured the essence of the whole landscape that that plant had grown and fruited in. The French call this term “terroir”. These first forays at home winemaking led him to California.
In the mid 90’s he briefly worked harvest at Limerick Lane, a small Old Vine Zinfandel producer in Sonoma County California. After leaving Sonoma, Eric worked for several years at David Bruce Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Working his way up from Cellar Worker, Assistant Production Manager, Production Manager and Assistant Winemaker over the course of five years, he became Co-Winemaker and Director of Production in 2001. During his tenure at David Bruce, Eric also pursued a great deal of coursework at the University of California at Davis in Viticulture and Enology. Read more about Eric
My mission statement and manifesto for Stronghold Vineyards, in Cochise County, Arizona, may at first glance appear to be somewhat eccentric, and all around romantically delusional. But allow me to bend your ear over a glass or two of our juice, and you may find our overall goals here to be quite utilitarian and down right grounded. By the time you get to the bottom of the glass you may very well have forgotten for a moment that I'm one of those "artist types." Or more convinced. Either way, allow me to take the long way around what should have been a relatively simple explanation.
It feels as though we as a culture have become disconnected. We're constantly dreaming up ways to give away more and more of our power. We've lost touch with our ability to make fire, find fresh water, to hunt, gather, or cultivate our own food, even to have a simple conversation without utilizing some electronic gizmo. So in a nutshell, for me, this project is about reconnecting. It's about rekindling a relationship with the Earth, to our community, to each other. A sustainable bullet-proof relationship that can withstand the most hostile of climates. In the wake of extreme changes, be they political, social, environmental, only a relationship such as this can survive.
Cochise and his family and community are the perfect examples of such a relationship. Hostile territory is an understatement. But their connection with the Earth and with each other was their salvation.
Connection, Communion, Co-existence, Compassion. Cochise. Stronghold. Salute'!