Winds of Change 7

A Whimsical Winery in Florence, Arizona Gives Visitors a Taste of Local Flavor

Who would have guessed that only an hour or so drive to Florence, Arizona would uncover a cozy, country-chic winery so picturesque that it has become a must-visit destination venue for corporate meetings and weddings.

Harold and Katie Christ purchased the 60-acre property, which was originally a dairy farm, in 2004. Harold, a former real estate developer, bought the property to be a nursery for growing shrubs and trees to be used for his developments. However, after the construction industry declined, Christ decided to plant grapes and birth a vineyard. Once a barn was built to hold equipment, inquiries from couples wanting to hold their wedding there started to come in. Ten years later, the vineyard is producing grapes and houses two venues for conferences and the over 200 weddings a year they host.

“We don’t just host these special events, we make these events special,” says president Rick Yeatts.

Wonderful Wines

Winery Operations Manager, Kevin Parsons, moved from California, where he studied Viticulture at California Polytechnic State in San Luis Obispo and worked at the Wild Horse Winery. Parsons oversees the vineyard and winery operations, as well as the wine tasting room. His choice of growing Barbera grapes, a southern Italian varietal, was selected due to its strong drought potential and blending capabilities. However, growing grapes that are not common in the industry, along with the area’s climate, is a bit of a challenge.

“We are truly pushing the boundaries of viticulture and pioneering a new area,” states Parsons.

The Windmill Winery has four of its own wines: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Symphony and Pomegranate, which all feature unique blends of fruit not normally found in wines. The Pinot Noir balances the flavors of dark cherry and wild raspberry with subtle oak, producing a smooth velvety finish. The Chardonnay has hints of pear, golden apples and wildflowers, making a delightful taste for even the most discerning of palates. The Symphony grape is rare and produces a very unique, semi-sweet white wine that has graceful aromatics of apricots and peaches with subtle notes of tropical fruit flavors. Finally, the Pomegranate wine, made with the juice of the pomegranates from North Carolina, has a combination of sweetness and the perfect amount of tartness.

Christ’s keen eye for detail is apparent throughout the property and incorporated in the buildings. The Wine Tasting Room is housed in a rustic-looking building that holds a bit of history, found in the old windows and heating stove salvaged from a historic building.

Memorable Moments

As the demand for weddings to be held at the venue has grown over the years, the Christs have continued to create magical settings for the bride and groom. The Big Barn is a 1910 barn from Green Bay, Wisconsin that was dismantled board-by-board and reassembled on the property. Additional buildings were added for the bride and her attendant’s, as well as the gentlemen’s quarters. One of the two lakes featured on the property, which were originally built for the nursery, now makes a wonderful backdrop for The Lake House— the second venue used for weddings and conferences.

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