Arizona is generally considered to be a hot and dry place. But even in Arizona vineyards flourish. The Willcox viticultural area is one of those areas. It was established in September 2016 is located east of Tucson around the city of Willcox.and is 526,000 acres in size with 26 commercial vineyards operating.
The topography of the region is a shallow basin that is surrounded by the Chiricahua, Dos Cabezas, Pinalenos, Dragoon, Little Dragoon, and Winchester Mountains and is not fed by any waterways. The water source for irrigation in the area comes from rain water that falls primarily during the monsoon season of July and August (editors note: monsoons produce spectacularly terrifying lightning.... also, keep your gas tank full in the desert trust me).
The soils in the Willcox AVA are loams produced wind and water born particles which allow for the heavy rains from the monsoon to drain readily into the aquifer below. While the soils were formed in the same manner they are not uniform throughout the appellation. They are influenced by the specific geology of the surrounding volcanic mountain ranges.
The climate of the region is effected by the topography. Flat vineyards receive almost uniform sunshine which makes canopy management essential. While many vineyards must remove leaves to assure that the fruit receives sufficient sunlight, Willcox vineyards must balance that with the need to protect the grapes from sunburn. Temperatures in the basin are warmer that locations at higher elevations. Cool air does drain down the mountain which allows the grapes to develop fuller flavors during the growing season but can cause frost damage during the cold season.
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