(Speakeasy) Winemaker Maynard James Keenan and the team behind Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards invite people to experience the Verde Valley as never before, with the Oct. 6. Opening of the Merkin Vineyards Hilltop Winery & Trattoria, and Caduceus Cellars Hilltop Facility and VSC Ventura Room.
Located in Cottonwood, Ariz., this project is the culmination of 20 years of work by Keenan. Spread across seven acres on the former site of the area's Masonic Lodge, the facility features a new winery and cellar, tasting room, restaurant, and food production greenhouse, gelateria, set amidst a vineyard in the heart of historic Old Town Cottonwood.
"In the many years I've been working towards this moment," explains Keenan, "one of the things I discovered when it comes to bridging the hurdle of exposing people to Arizona wine is context. So by putting a place like this in the middle of Cottonwood with five acres of vines, to winery facilities with a full greenhouse, and a full kitchen, all the context becomes visible, and you kind of break down the barriers of whatever preconceptions you have of Arizona wine."
The Caduceus Cellars Hilltop Facility & VSC Ventura Room features a 9,500 square-foot, state-of-the-art production facility, a five-acre vineyard consisting of Graciano, Tempranillo, and Garnacha grape varieties, and a new VSC (Velvet Slippers Club) private tasting room. Private tastings and tours take visitors behind-the-scenes into the history and mechanics of Caduceus Cellars.
The Merkin Vineyards Hilltop Winery & Trattoria includes a winery and barrel room, on-site greenhouse and bottle shop, and will serve as the new home of Merkin Vineyards award-winning restaurant, the Trattoria. The 6,600-square-foot restaurant is helmed by Chef Chris Smith and has a stunning 270-degree view of the Verde Valley with a large central bar and outdoor patio.. The menu includes fresh salads, handmade pastas, and wood-oven pizzas. The neighboring winery, which can be viewed as guests enter the restaurant, features an 8,000-case production facility and display barrel room, with six custom concrete fermentation and aging cubes.
Located at the base of the complex is the Merkin Vineyards Pocket Park Gelateria where customers can purchase freshly made gelato and secure a token for the Hilltop Tram that transports them to the top of the development, a reminder of the area's copper mining past. Gelato Master Kelley E. Foy oversees the production and rotating seasonal gelato flavors.
The facility is located at 770 Verde Heights Drive in Cottonwood, Ariz.