Omphalos Winery, owned by Tom Messier and his wife, Teresa, is the latest winery to locate in the Elgin-Sonoita area, the 20th vineyard to be established in eastern Santa Cruz County.
The Messiers are currently making white, red, rosé, and fruit wines under their Omphalos label, and are offering their wines for tasting and sale at Second Saturday Sonoita at the COOP on Route 82 in Sonoita. “Come out and join us, say hello, and try our wines which we are sure you will enjoy,” said Tom Messier. He is also pouring and selling Omphalos wines at wine festivals around the Southwest, and offers tasting by appointment at their new tasting room in Willcox.
Messier began his winemaking journey back in the 2000s after moving from Connecticut to Arizona. In their Arizona kitchen the couple began experimenting with making wine for fun with everything from apricots to tomatoes and even pyracantha berries. “You know, those orange-red berries,” he said. “They tasted mellow, unique, sort of like a low-flavored strawberry.”
Wanting to learn more about the science of winemaking, he enrolled in Yavapai College, in Clarkdale obtaining a degree in enology and viticulture. While at the college he worked with students processing wine, poured wine at the Southwest Wine Center and worked for a time at a winery in Scottsdale.
In 2019 the Messiers became co-owners of their own winery which they named Omphalos. They chose the name because they were drawn to the ancient Greek myth that “the Earth’s epicenter was found at the merging point of two soaring eagles dispatched by Zeus from opposite ends of the world. There the famous Omphalos Stone was laid to mark the center of all things. We have taken the story another step with modern GPS and have lightheartedly determined that the Omphalos Stone is on our property in Willcox,” said Messier.
Messier came to Elgin to work with James Callahan, owner of Rune Winery, whose wine is produced at Deep Sky Vineyard, owned by Kim and Philip Asmundson. Deep Sky serves as a custom crush facility for several local vineyards.
In addition to producing his own wine under the Omphalos label, Messier is now the assistant winemaker for both Rune and Deep Sky, as well as the cellar master, a term that refers to a person who supervises the making of wine, manages inventory, cellar cleanliness, the bottling, and offers the occasional tour. Messier especially enjoys using the state of the art, Italian made, machinery at Deep Sky. “I am extremely grateful to the Asmundsons and Callahan for all of their help and guidance,” Messier said.
This summer the Messiers are moving to their new home in Sonoita. Teresa Messier has been commuting between Mesa, where she works at the VA, and Elgin, where she helps with the winery and harvests on weekends. Future plans include opening a tasting room in Willcox and growing their own vines, an expensive capital commitment. Like many other local vintners Messier will, for now, continue to buy grapes from Southern Arizona wine growers.
In return for all the support from the Elgin-Sonoita community Messier said, “We would be happy to donate wine for a benefit, help other wineries when needed and work with students who need hours to complete degree requirements. And again come by Sonoita Second Saturday and meet us.” To make an appointment to visit their Willcox tasting room call 480-739-8447. More information can be found at OmphalosWinery.com