1881 Preserve

A luxury wine community.

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In Tombstone, Arizona, a new luxury community centered around wine is taking shape, with world-class wine experts shooting for sparkling success.

Wine in Time | Tombstone, Arizona Goes from Gun Fights to Wine Flights

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There's something brewing in Tombstone, Arizona! A special project is about to be uncorked in the form of a wine-inspired community. If you've ever dreamed of owning a vineyard, you'll soon be able to turn that goal into a reality with new and improved sites now available.

Tombstone's main claim to fame is cinema, more so than Mourvedre, but all of that is about to change as the exciting 1881 Preserve breaks ground just one mile east of town. Creating an entire community on the 21,000-acre site, the developers have grown their vision over the years to highlight the burgeoning Cochise County wine region.

The land, which included the Chandler Milk Ranch, played a role in many of Tombstone’s historical events. In October 1881,  Billy and Ike Clanton met up at the ranch before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Clantons and the Earps, regarded as the most famous shootout in the American Wild West.

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An idyllic summer escape ranked as one of the coolest places in Arizona, Cochise County creates desirable conditions for residents as well as winemakers.

Wine in Arizona? It's not as unheard of as you might think. Since 1980, the Arizona wine industry has steadily been gaining more traction. The neighboring city of Wilcox is currently home to 23 wineries, including the award-winning Caduceus Cellars, which boasts the famed wine club and "Best in Show" winner Velvet Club Slippers. Interestingly, Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan founded Caduceus Cellars in 2004.

Also in Wilcox is Bodega Pierce, known for its decadent Sauvignon Blanc made from grapes from the Rolling View Vineyard, which won Best White Wine in 2019.

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Sitting at 4,600 to 5,600 feet above sea level, the diurnal temperature variations temper Arizona's heat, creating ideal conditions for wine-growing, similar to some of the world's top regions like Mendoza, Argentina or New Zealand's Central Otago region.

And the elevation isn't just good for wine — it creates desirable living conditions for residents, too. Cochise County is an idyllic summer escape, ranked as cooler than most places in Arizona. The hottest average summer temperature levels out at 94 degrees, approximately 20 degrees cooler than in the cities.

Developers conducted extensive soil testing to determine the composition and quality of soil for regional grape-growing before construction on 1881 Preserve got underway. Results were even better than expected. Now the community's central focus is on more than 1,200 acres of vineyard land and the future of winemaking.

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1881 Preserve President Peter Benincasa and Vice President Erica Leblang revealed that soil testing improved the community's overall vision. From vine to wine, the potential to create unique, award-winning Arizona wines is astronomical.

"We are leading with the vineyards and building a vision outward from there, and in doing so, we plan to preserve both the natural beauty and historical significance of the land surrounding the vineyards to create a wonderful place to live and play," LeBlang said.

To that end, two preeminent industry professionals, Daniel Fischl and Doug Frost, are leading the viticulture program.

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Being an early pioneer in something that will be notable worldwide appeals to Frost. "No one knows what to think of these undiscovered wine regions, and it's great fun for me to be involved right from the beginning of the story," he says.

Fischl echos his sentiments, "I'm really keen to start a new AVA here. It has all the right components, and right now, it's a blank slate."

While Arizona has been producing wine for more than 40 years, it's still in its infancy. While the wine quality and growing know-how have improved, there is still room for new varieties and better quality to help the region compete with more established wine areas.

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Arizona vintners have focused on Rhone and Spanish varietals. Frost believes that any Greek grape and many Portuguese varietals would also do well in Cochise County. He and Fischl are exploring what grapes they'll plant on the 100-acre vineyard plot planned to produce 1881-branded wines in Arizona.

"I'm a big believer in what Arizona has," says Frost. "The character and style of the wines are unique, and I'm excited to do something with varietals other Arizona vintners haven't focused on."

In addition to a planned, on-site winery producing branded 1881 wine, eight 40-acre vineyard parcels are available for purchase through Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty listing agents Debbie Sinagoga and Kris LaCroix. These blocks of land could be additional vineyards for an existing winery or become an ideal site for aspiring vintners looking to get into the winemaking business. As a bonus to buyers, they'll have the chance to consult with Fischl and Frost on the land and vineyard development.

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Alongside the eight parceled vineyards, 1881 Preserve has an additional 200 acres of vineyard land planned for subdivision to each buyer's preferred acreage. Extensive soil testing revealed that the soil is some of the best for wine in the entire development. With Frost and Fischl serving as consultants, vineyard owners can be as hands-on in creating wines as they want to be.

"We're ready to hold their hand when needed and to let go when they want to take the reins," says Frost.

Since developers have already cleared 200 acres for planting and installed a weather station, most typical vineyard labor and expenses are already complete. Additionally, Fischl and Frost have analyzed the area and identified the best varietals to grow in this specific location. All of these efforts will help buyers jumpstart the process with minimal effort on their part. Best of all, that land is available now and ready to go. Reach out directly to 1881 Preserve to stake your claim.

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When completed, both commercial vineyards and hobby winemakers will have access to state-of-the-art equipment at the 1881 winery for crushing, fermenting, blending, and bottling their wine. Fischl and Frost will implement many of the biodynamic and organic winemaking principles into the program at the Arizona wine vineyards.

"My focus is technical viticulture. And I plan to bring ecosystems into the vineyard that provide many benefits to the winemaking process," says Fischl.

With a wealth of global experiences to draw from, Fischl and Frost will bring an unprecedented level of science and viticultural know-how to Arizona.

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"I've been fortunate to travel the world and see a lot of different strategies and approaches to winemaking," Fischl remarks. "I can help Arizona winemakers improve by picking and choosing the best practices and developing a viticulture strategy from the design stage."

Frost and Fischl are also working with Irvin Farms, a boutique hotel coming to the 1881 Preserve development. The hotel has a 30-acre vineyard and will also have a farm and subsequent farmer's market for residents to enjoy along with their Arizona wine.

As 1881 Preserve continues its build-out, additional plans include creating The Resort & Lodge at 1881, 1881 Hideaway Motor Coach Park, and The Ranch at 1881.

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Rich Arizona soil from an ancient volcanic floodplain enriches the land at 1881 Preserve. Its vineyards are poised to give Arizona wine lovers a new reason to raise a glass and say, “Cheers.”

Property designs include plans for more than 21 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails with numerous buttes and mountain views throughout the region. As the 1881 Preserve grows, developers intend to add a world-class equestrian center and championship golf course to the community.

As any oenophile knows, great wine starts in the vineyard. With rich Arizona soil from an ancient volcanic floodplain enriching the land at 1881 Preserve, its vineyards are poised to give Arizona wine lovers a new reason to raise a glass and say, “Cheers."

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