The Four Eight Wineworks tasting room, the sales outlet for the pioneering winemaker cooperative founded by Maynard James Keenan, has moved to Jerome, joining Puscifer The Store on Main Street, just a few doors up from Maynard’s Caduceus Cellars tasting room. Grammy- winning Maynard, of course, is well known for his phenomenal success on stage and in the studio with his three Multi-Platinum bands, Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer. He’s also made quite a mark as a winemaker with his Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards wines. But Four Eight has always been something special. From his own experience, he realized the great challenges a budding young winemaker would face. He is a big supporter of the Yavapai College Viticulture and Enology programs and the growth of the industry in the Verde Valley and he set out to help new winemakers establish themselves.
His idea was to create a support mechanism that would allow selected new winemakers to dedicate their time and energy to learning their craft, developing the skills needed to make quality wine, and establishing a brand without first having to build a winery. Raising that required capital with no track record can be a daunting task.
He developed a business incubator to help them get started. He bought property and built a fully equipped winery with dedicated spaces for up to five wineries to function in a cooperative fashion, known in the industry as an alternating proprietorship, with each winery having their own license and having alternating access to the equipment. I’m proud to say I wrote a grant to help fund a high-speed bottling line for the facility. To honor Arizona’s statehood Centennial, the forty eighth state to join the Union, he named it the Four Eight Wineworks. He then opened the Four Eight Wineworks tasting room in Clarkdale to create a sales outlet for these new winemakers’ products. Four Eight has risen to the envisioned task and fulfilled its mission admirably. The Chateau Tumbleweed Winery is the poster child for the program. The four partners had established their credentials by gaining experience working at local wineries before launching their own brand at Four Eight in 2011. Their experience and success helped them locate the necessary financing to build their winery and tasting room on Highway 89A in Clarkdale. When they moved into their own facility, Maynard filled the slot by bringing Yavapai College’s top Enology graduate, Aaron Weiss, into the fold with his partners in the Oddity Wine Collective, David Baird, who also manages the Four Eight tasting room, and Briana Nation, all graduates of the Yavapai College Viticulture and Enology programs. They produce both single varietal wines and special blends. They won multiple medals at this year’s San Francisco Chronicle wine competition.
Another award-winning winery is Valerie and Daniel Wood’s Heart Wood Cellars. Also graduates of the Yavapai College program, they focus on small batch red wines that are drinkable on release but designed to age well, usually with a least 24 months in oak. Iniquus Cellars is Tim White’s label. The owner and winemaker, also the assistant winemaker at Caduceus Cellars, is the former winemaker and cellar master at Arizona Stronghold Vineyards. He’s also the founder of the Kindred project that brought winemakers from the Caduceus, Dos Cabezas, Callaghan, and Iniquus wineries together to make a very special blend. A new vintage is currently in the planning stages. Also try the Saeculum Cellars and Bodega Pierce wines made by Michael Pierce from grapes grown in his family’s Rolling View Vineyard near Willcox. Michael is the head of the Enology Department at Yavapai College and the winemaker for his family’s wines as well as for Saeculum, his small batch premium wine label. Be on the lookout for occasional Merkin Vineyards or Four Eight wines while you’re there. You might want to try the newly introduced Puscifer Queen B canned sparkling wines that were specifically developed to take along on a canoe excursion on the Verde River. They offer a Malvasia, a Rosé, and a Hard Cider. Rest assured there is always a wide selection at Four Eight from which to choose.
Meanwhile, Puscifer The Store, is but another of the multi-tasking Maynard’s projects named, of course, for one of his bands. Puscifer is always worth a stop for its wide selection of collectable memorabilia, having relocated into a much larger space from Maynard’s Caduceus Cellars Tasting Room. The proximity to Caduceus, and the amount of available space, prompted the decision to combine Puscifer and Four Eight in one location
When you enter from Main, you’ll first find a vast array of new and vintage vinyl LPs and a large selection of CDs with a few special items thrown in the mix. Follow the view toward the window and you’ll find yourself in the new Four Eight Wineworks tasting room. With an attractive bar and an ample supply of tables, it features a huge back wall window with a great view overlooking the Verde Valley across to the Red Rocks of Sedona with the San Francisco Peaks rising above it all. Downstairs, one section is devoted to one of a kind specialty items and another features memorabilia of all kinds tied to all of Maynard’s many projects, including his three bands. And don’t forget Barbifer, the barber shop. This is quite a stop!
And, though they have moved the tasting room, they haven’t completely abandoned Clarkdale. On Saturday, May 11th, Mother’s Day weekend, the fourth annual Verde Valley Wine Festival will be held in the Clarkdale Town Park. Maynard’s brainchild, it is co-sponsored by Four Eight Wineworks and the non-profit Clarkdale Foundation. David Baird, Four Eight’s manager, is also the Festival Director. There will be a really special dinner and auction the night before benefiting the Arizona Vignerons Alliance.
For more information, go to: verdevalleywinefestival.com
Stop by Maynard’s new Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale tasting room/wine bar the next time you’re in the neighborhood.
Story written by Tom Pitts Photos Provided by Grace Stufkosky