By Jo Dean

Callaghan Vineyards has a long history of winning medals at both state and national wine competitions, and 2019 saw the Elgin vineyard continue this winning tradition.

Callaghan was one of the Arizona wineries to receive awards at the 2019 San Francisco Chronical Wine Competition, the largest competition for    American wines in the World. In the 2019 competition, 6,800 wines from 1,132 wineries were judged. 

Callaghan has received many awards, including gold medals, at the San Francisco Chronical Wine Competition over the years. In this year’s competition, their AZ Tannat 2016 won the Double Gold Medal and Best of Class.

Callaghan Vineyards also won two gold medals at the 2019 Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition, held in November in Kansas City, MO, for Claire’s 2017 and Rhumb Line Tannat 2017. 

Closer to home, Callaghan Vineyards won more medals than any other winery in the 2019 azcentral.com Arizona Wine competition, held last fall. Their Amor Fati Malvasia Bianca won best in class for dessert wines, and their 2018 Tannat earned a double gold. The winery also won two gold medals, three silver medals and eight bronze medals.

Callaghan has received many accolades and awards since 1991, including the honor of having their wine being served four times at the White House, at the White House Governors’ Dinner in January 2017; at President George W. Bush’s dinner for retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; at President Bill Clinton’s last State Dinner with the Prime Minister of India in 2000 and at a White House dinner for the Democratic National Committee in 1996.

Founded in 1990, Callaghan is one of the earlier wineries to open in the     Sonoita area, established by Harold and Karen Callaghan and their son Kent. To prepare for owning and operating a winery, Harold and Kent completed an extension class in viticulture at UC Davis, continuing to educate themselves by hard work and travel to vineyards in Spain, France, Italy, and Sicily. Karen Callaghan also owned and operated Karen’s Wine Country Café, first in Elgin, and then in Sonoita.

Spanish varieties of root stock work best for Callaghan’s constant search for grapes that thrive in the Sonoita region with its dramatic temperature swings, drought, wind, heat, and cold. They now have 25 acres of vineyard and approximately 15 varieties of grapes with 85% of the bottled wine sold directly from their tasting room. Their approach to wine making is to keep it simple and work hard with a significant emphasis on soil health and nutrition.

Kent Callaghan started running the vineyard solo in 1996. He and his wife, Lisa Callaghan, are third generation and fourth generation Tucsonans. This is a family business employing a few local residents. The couple have a combined family of four daughters between the ages of 22 and 26. Each daughter has a wine named after her: Waverly’s Dry Rose Wine, 2016; Barrett’s Sparkling Wine, 2017; Claire’s, 2016, and Caitlin’s, 2016.

Visit Callaghan Vineyards at 336 Elgin Road, Elgin, Arizona. Tasting room hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday – Sunday. For information, call (520)455-5322 or visit www.callaghanvineyards.