Category Archives: Blog

The Grape Escape

Here at Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, we use only free-range grapes. They are treated with tender loving care, the utmost respect and adoration. They are never abused, bruised, thrown about or yelled at. This does give rise to a little elitism on their part, so harvest isn’t as easy as you might think…

The Grape Escape Video

2013 Best In Show Arizona Republic Wine Competition


Proud mom, Marge Black-Graziano and sister Carrie help celebrate John’s well deserved victory!


AZ Republic Wine Competition

A victory, not just for John McLoughlin, but for  the Arizona Wine Industry. John took Best Of Show with his Bitter Creek Winery series wine, “Death”. Bitter Creek Winery also took awards in the categories of Wine of Distinction and Judge’s Favorite as overseen by some of AZ’s finest chefs, and renowned Sommeliers and Certified Wine Specialists.

John was stunned. “We submitted this year, just to see what would happen, to get a feel for some feedback on the upcoming releases.”

In true John fashion, he quickly credited the victory to his family and staff at the Cellar 433 wineroom in Jerome, Dragoon Mountain Vineyards in Willcox and the heart of operations, “MHQ” in Mesa.

“If it wasn’t for such a great group of individuals such as yourselves, this wouldn’t have been possible.” John said in an e-mail to his entire staff. This victory is especially sweet, as the fruits harvested for these wines came exclusively from Arizona soil.

The victory comes at a time when John is sponsoring an effort to create two American Viticultural Areas, (AVA) for the area around Willcox. On Friday afternoon, Paul Hagar, Special Projects Manager, described the completed petitions that will be submitted to the Federal Government by the end of the month. Members of the industry, who were in attendance, were very supportive of this effort. Commenting on the extensive research and organizational effort required to complete all the materials for filing, Mark Cave, GM of Arizona Stronghold said in an e-mail, “Thanks for all the legwork on this…”

Regarding the AVA applications, approval can take up to one year. We look forward to achieving a recognized status that we can legally include on our wine labels. Exciting Times!


Punch DownArizona’s annual wine grape harvest and winemaking operations are well underway. The area around Willcox is the largest grape producing area in the State, in what is one of Arizona’s fastest growing industries.  Cellar 433’s Dragoon Mountain Vineyards is hosting 3 visiting assistant winemakers from Europe.  All 3 are women, unusual in the wine industry, but well skilled with wine industry experience in Europe and New Zealand.
Julie Jallais, Assistant Winemaker – France
Simona Lemmetti, Assistant Winemaker – Italy
Charikleia Mavrommati, Assistant Winemaker – Greece

The three sampled and conducted blending exercises with a diverse selection of wines at Cellar 433’s winery.  They are now participating in the harvest.  All three are amazed and enthusiastic about the quality and breadth of varietal grapes and wines grown and produced in Arizona.  We are excited to host three passionate winemakers willing to travel the world in pursuit of their careers.
Harvest will continue through September.


Active winemaking operations continue well into October.

Arizona’s wine industry continues to expand creating not only direct job growth within the industry, but building a growing wine tourism attraction drawing visitors and their dollars to Arizona.  Arizona’s industry is being recognized nationally and internationally, as evidenced by Cellar 433’s ability to attract these three European Winemakers to our State.

The Winemakers Out In The Verde

image Symona, from Itlay and Charakleia, from Greece spent a few days with us in the tasting room in Jerome while they awaited the arrival of Julie from France. Brighid Flaherty, Cellar 433’s General Manager took the girls out to taste the wines of the Verde.

image_2“This is the first time in the U.S. for both. I thought it would be a great opportunity for them to begin to experience Arizona wines. I wish we would have had more time.”

image_7Symona finds one of her vintages abroad for the first time!



European Winemakers To Work AZ Harvest

Three assistant winemakers will be working during the 2013 harvest at Cellar 433’s Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, near Willcox, AZ. Owner and winemaker John McLoughlin says, “This is a significant achievement for the Arizona Wine Industry. These winemakers chose Arizona over California for a harvest experience, and Cellar 433 specifically, with its progressive, state of the art harvest and winemaking methods that draw the most desirable results from Arizona grown grapes.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   McLoughlin notes that all three Assistant Winemakers are women. “Though we weren’t specifically seeking women, we’re pleased to provide this opportunity. Because women face greater challenges in the industry, I’ve found they tend to make more elegant wines.” McLoughlin looks forward to not only sharing his knowledge and innovations for producing wine in Arizona, but also expects to draw on traditional European methods from winemakers with global experience.