Some would say it was a matter of the tail wagging the dog when the owners of Waggin’ Vineyard and Estate began planting grapes in the middle of Globe.
“We went into something we knew nothing about,” admits Timothy Trent, who co-owns the venture with his wife, Daisy Flores.
The vineyard’s dog theme was a given—named after the couple’s rescue dog, Sancho, who can be seen everywhere, either “in the fur” or in likenesses gracing the property.
For Trent and Flores, partnership in life and business began when, as they say, Dodge City met Globe at a Globe Rotary meeting.
A former teacher/school superintendent, Trent moved to Globe for work and met Flores, a Globe native and daughter of a French immigrant and “one of the Grover Canyon Flores boys.”
As for winemaking, the couple’s inspiration was a trip to visit Flores’ uncle in France, where they enjoyed strolling through his vineyard and sipping good wine.
The couple returned to their home atop a hill in Globe, where Trent casually mentioned to Flores that he always wanted to be a farmer.
Looking around their property near Round Mountain Park, Flores replied, “Well, we can try growing grapes here.” That was in 2011, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Wanting to educate themselves first, the couple joined the Master Gardener program taught by horticulturist Chris Jones with the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension in Globe.
Jones, who calls growing wine grapes in Globe “uncharted territory,” said he tried answering their questions as best he could. “As for the wine growing, they’ve done that on their own,” he added.
Staunch believers in shopping local, Trent and Flores also consulted Mike Shirley, a state-certified nurseryman and horticulturist who operates Golden Hills Nursery, as to the kind of wine grapes that would grow here. They purchased bare-root vines from the nursery.
The couple also hires local workers, whom Trent trains in what they need to know, Flores said.
Trent and Flores planted their first vines—all 150 of them—in 2012, followed by a major planting the next year. They now have 3,000 vines.
But first there was much work to be done preparing the soil.
“We excavated everywhere,” Trent said. “We dug down three feet and then screened all the soil down to two-inch rock,” a project that took them two months.
Flores remembers, “We spent Christmas Day with Tim running the backhoe.”
With no organic matter in the soil, they had to add fertilizer and then put the reconditioned soil back in place.
“We used as much of the rock that we found as possible,” Flores explained. In part to keep the soil in place, they also brought in river rock, stacking it by hand up the sides of the hills.
Because of Gila conglomerate soil, which Flores says is almost like rock, there were places on the property where they couldn’t dig. “We plan to build an outdoor amphitheater where we can’t build,” she said.
The couple also has a water retention system they hope to put into service next year to catch rain. Ideas like this prompt Jones to say he admires Trent and Flores not only for what they’re doing but for the way they’re doing it.
Set within city limits, Waggin’ Vineyard is on the city water system. As Trent put it, “With each plant on its own water emitter, it’s like having 3,000 rather thirsty, expensive children.”
“We got what we got and made it work,” said Flores. She explained that they must stay on top of the issue of pH levels and always have to fertilize. They purchase chicken manure from Hickman’s Egg Ranch in the Valley.
Among lessons learned, Trent notes that harvesting in the dark to avoid the summer heat is something they won’t try again.
“Here, you just have to manage the summer,” said Trent, who believes that Globe’s 105-degree days and 70-degree nights have something to do with their success in growing grapes.
Home to more than 100 wineries, vineyards, and cellars, Arizona is gaining a reputation as wine country. In fact, there are now three major wine-making areas in the state—Verde Valley in Yavapai County, Willcox in Cochise County, and Sonoita in Santa Cruz County.
Although Gila County is not yet listed among them, who knows what the future has in store. In addition to Waggin’ Vineyard, there is also Bruzzi Vineyard in Young, established in 2010.
Needing a facility to crush their grapes and bottle their wine, Flores and Trent turned to Flying Leap in Elgin, also in Santa Cruz County.
“We have red blends and sweet wines like port. We plan to have 10,000 bottles ready when we open,” said Flores. Asked when that might be, Flores replied, “Three weeks after receiving our occupancy permit”—which roughly translates into “after Thanksgiving.”
Trent points out that there is still much work to be done before then. For example, though the Merlot and Chardonnay grapes were harvested in September, Cabernet and Shiraz were still left to harvest as of press time.
By definition, Waggin’ Vineyard will be a small producer. “In a good year, we might be a 10- to 12-ton producer,” Trent said.
Ultimately, the couple’s goal is for Flores to make her own wine, having completed the winemaking course at the University of California at Davis, he said.
Asked who told them wine grapes could not be grown in Globe, Flores replied, “Everyone. Everyone told us we were crazy.”
Crazy, however, is up for debate when one considers the vineyard’s prime location—highly visible from Highway 60, across the road from Best Western Hotel and just down the hill from Round Mountain Park.
“They have done their homework,” said Linda Oddonetto, the city’s economic development department director. “They have done it the right way,” she said, by researching and asking other winegrowers what did and didn’t work for them.
“We are supportive of what they’re doing there,” Oddonetto said. “They’ve made the impossible possible.”
In support of the couple’s plans to have a small animal farm (petting zoo) on site, the City is considering codes to allow such farms on commercial property within city limits. As of press time, the issue was up for vote at the Nov. 5 city council meeting.
Oddonetto also pointed out that the couple’s dog-friendly vineyard lines up perfectly with Globe’s current efforts to establish a permanent city dog park.
She cites Trent and Flores as examples of the kind of forward-thinking entrepreneurs who can take Globe to the next level.
“We need to be willing and ready to evolve,” said Oddonetto, adding that there may be other budding entrepreneurs in Globe looking to get off the ground. “We need to provide resources and tools to our aspiring business owners.”
Trent said the city has been great and their neighbors very supportive.
Ultimately, though, Trent and Flores have relied on each other most of all, said Flores. The couple has friends who say, “We’d put the two of you as a pair against a full house anytime,” she said.
Asked about the magnitude of their investment, Trent replied that it is “sizable in sweat, love, and Benjamins.”
The couple invites one and all—and their dogs—to visit Waggin’ Vineyard and see their dream that became a reality.
“Yes, we are a little crazy,” they admit. “But crazy makes good wine.”
Award winning journalist with over 18 years experience in covering local news and issues affecting rural communities. Married 37 years, my life has taken me from Phoenix to Willcox to Globe. My husband and I are both overjoyed to find ourselves in Globe-Miami, with its rich history and sense of community. This is truly home.