Cochise County expects economic boost with wine culture
Jan. 29, 2018
The population of a small town in southern Arizona may have struck gold with their growing wine industry, supplying over 75% of the state’s grapes and contributing to the $56 million in wine tourism statewide.
“We’re seeing the growth of an industry,” Cochise County Administrator Ed Gilligan says. “[There are] significant private capital investments for vineyards and buildings to support wine tasting… It’s really leading to increased tourism and revitalization of the downtown district.”
Rod Keeling, partner in Keeling Shaefer Vineyards, says he grows six varieties of grapes. The Mediterranean variety grows best despite the climate being closer to Mendoza, Argentina because of the high altitude. Keeling says one of the most important climate factors to take into account for vineyards are the daytime and nighttime temperatures. As the temperatures dip after the sun goes down, it allows the sugar and tastes to set, says Keeling.
Gilligan hopes to see more investments in the area in the future. There are plenty of activities to keep a visitor busy for an entire weekend in Wilcox, Gilligan says, but he wants to see a greater diversity in places to stay. Also, the roads to Willcox Bench, which is a popular area, is dirt. If they were paved, it would make it easier for tourists to visit. Luckily, Gilligan says there has been strong cooperation to get these goals met.