Issue 2 August 2010  

Greetings from Lawrence Dunham Vineyards

LDV Winery
Summer time has been very busy for everyone at Lawrence Dunham Vineyards.

This spring we planted nearly 4,500 new plants; many of them replacement vines. We lost well over 2,000 vines to an October 2009 freeze.
LDV Winery
Summer Grapes
The vines that survived the freeze are full
of grapes now and afternoon mountain rainstorms are keeping the moisture levels high and provide a respite from the heat
that makes for perfect ripening!
The winery is still under construction and should be completed by the end of August. An additional septic system is being installed and we are adding a tankless propane water heater to provide us with all of the hot water we need for keeping things clean. We will  hopefully have our permit from Cochise County soon. This is the last step in a very long permitting process.
Equipment and supplies to outfit the winery have been arriving almost weekly and it seems like Christmas except none of the items are gifts!. Unfortunately for Arizona, almost all of the equipment and supplies had to be purchased outside of the state. With the growing Arizona grape-growing and wine industry we hope some entrepreneurs will begin to service this growing market so we can buy locally.

Our first wine is in the bottle and we are excited to share it with the world. We anticipate a late September release date. However, the wine will tell us when it is ready. We bottled 52 cases of our 2008 Chiricahua Mountain Syrah. We have the
label designed and are currently awaiting
label approval from Alcohol and Tobacco
Tax and Trade Bureau. Since this is our
first label we are keeping our fingers crossed.
LDV Winery
2008 Syrah Bottling
The new website is anticipated to go live just in time for our first wine release. Please tell all of your friends to visit the site and become a friend of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards by joining our mailing list. We are also active on Facebook.

Peggy recently was appointed Secretary to the Arizona Wine Growers Association (AWGA) Board of Directors. It is an exciting time for the industry with 45 licensed and bonded wineries in Arizona. You can become an Associate or Supporter member of the organization by visiting

If you like to run, participate in the “Great Arizona Grape Stomp” a five kilometer series of races around Arizona. The first in the series happened July 24th in the Sonoita area.
Get information about the upcoming races at

Get your tickets now for the “Festival at the Farm” in Phoenix November 6th.
Those who attended last year’s event know this is a festival not to be missed.
Tickets are available at
We played host to our first visitors to Lawrence Dunham Vineyards (other than family or close friends). Dee Decker and Rich Wilson from the Phoenix area visited us over Memorial Day weekend during their stay at SunGlow Ranch. We did barrel tastings and toured the vineyard.

Join us on our journey to produce great wine in our special place in Southeastern Arizona. We hope you can visit us soon.

Best Regards,
Curt Dunham and Peggy Fiandaca

LDV Winery

Chiricahua Circle

Our first Lawrence Dunham Vineyards’
club, called Chiricahua Circle is growing.

The idea behind the club was to get
people involved in the grape-growing
and winemaking process.

When Curt and I started collecting wine
and visiting vineyards all over the world,
the passion of the winemakers we visited
was contagious. We hope to share our passion for our place and wines in the
same way.
LDV Winery
Chiricahua Circle Club Members
Char & Bill McCluskey at LDV
The club is intended for families that want to get more involved than just drinking a great bottle of wine. Circle members actually roll up their sleeves and experience the agriculture and winemaking process. Click here and become a member today.
Chiricahua Circle members, Char and Bill McCluskey, visited the vineyard at the end of April and we immediately put them to work drinking wine and having way too much fun! They toured the vineyard and winery and captured some wonderful photographs of the first spring buds on the vines.

Bill, Char and David Thomas served as our tasting panel for our 2009 Grenache. The tasting panel is an important step in the winemaking process. Curt uses the feedback to assist him in determining the right blend and to get a sense of what others taste in the developing wine.

The first Chiricahua Circle event – Grape to Glass Symposium is scheduled for Saturday August 28.  Members will select their adopted vines, learn about vineyard management and the winemaking process led by winemaker Curt Dunham.

Special barrel tastings of upcoming releases and a barbecue on the crush pad will add to the fun. Contact us at or visit the website to join the Chiricahua Circle today.

LDV Winery

Curt in the Dirt – The Vineyard Update

LDV Winery
Curt in the field checking grapes
Spring planting was very successful. We planted another two acres (1,900 plants) of the Rhone white varietal Viognier (VEE-ohn-yay) which we think has a promising future in the Chiricahua Foothills.

We also replaced about 2,500 Grenache, Syrah, and Viognier vines that were killed by the October 2009 freeze.

Lawrence Dunham Vineyards is now up to 8.5 acres total.
Plants arrived on April 15th and we cold soaked them in root stimulator  for a
couple of days.

Planting started on April 19th. LDV friends Lisa Faiss and Don Kelly with GreenZona joined us in the field. They worked hard
for a couple of days planting but we fed
and wined them well and they said they enjoyed the experience.

It took about two weeks to get all the
vines planted.

LDV Winery
2010 planting - Lisa Faiss & Don Kelly
Mother Nature threw us a curve ball at the end of April with a frost right after bud break. We were thankful that our good friend David Thomas was with us helping out as we pulled an all-nighter tending to the vineyard and lighting bon fires and using smudge pots in the vineyard to keep warm air flowing. The overnight temperature got down to 30 degrees but we survived with little damage. We dodged a bullet and the vineyard looks extremely healthy. Many other Arizona vineyards were not so lucky.

Now the attention in the vineyard is focused on training the new vines and positioning the established plants. The grapevine is a climber. To grow properly, it needs something its tendrils can cling to – stakes, a trellis, or stretched wires. The new vines are being trained by being tied to the wires that hang between our metal trellising systems. The training that occurs now will impact the vines for the rest of their lives – hopefully many decades!

LDV Winery
Curt Training Vines
The established vines are being positioned.
This process involves taking the leafy
shoots that grow after the fruit is set
and feeding them through a series of
wires that will create a canopy to shade
the maturing grapes.

It is important to get a good canopy established to protect the grapes from intense sun.
We have noticed that the color of the Grenache wine from grapes grown in our area is very light and we believe it is because the young vines do not have enough of a canopy to protect them from the sun. The grapes’ color  gets bleached much like our hair in summer. We will be working to remedy this over the years.

Veraison is beginning in the field.

The French word veraison has become internationally accepted as the technical
term for coloring.

In warm summers, veraison begins earlier, in cool summers, later.

This process is triggered when a certain level of sugar has been reached within the juice of the berry.

LDV Winery
Veraison Begins
Not all grapes take on color at the same time. Usually those that have received the most sunlight and warmth color first, while grapes growing on the shady side remain green longer.

We harvested our Petite Sirah on September 9th and 10th last year and we anticipate beginning to harvest later in September this year. Last year we had to pick a little sooner than we wanted due to a freak hail storm. So we are keeping our fingers crossed for a long, mild summer. Let us know if you want to join us for harvest and crush . It is lots of fun and hard work. This will be the first crush at our winery.

LDV Winery

Winery Updates

LDV Winery
Curt Among the Barrels
We bottled our 2008 Syrah on July 9, 2010. It was an exciting day for us and this bottle of wine will always represent an important milestone. We are extremely pleased with the rich flavors of the wine as it went into the bottle. This is not a wimpy wine.

We are getting ready to bottle our 2009 Grenache soon. We will be holding a tasting panel (sampling various blends to see what tastes best) this month to make the final determination of wine we will bottle from this vintage.
In addition to bottling, we have been busy purchasing winery equipment.

We are now the proud owners of our first basket wine press. The type of wine press used varies from winery to winery.

We chose a basket press for several reasons. It tends to be gentler on the grapes than hydraulic bladder pressing and we think this will really improve the quality of our wines, especially the Petite Sirah.

LDV Winery
Hydraulic Basket Press
Since we are going to be focusing on small lot, hand crafted bottlings, the basket press is also much more conducive to this type of approach from a cleaning and maintenance perspective. As our operation grows and matures, we may need to add another basket press or bladder press but for now we are in pretty good shape.

Click here to read the Summer 2010 winemaker interview.

LDV Winery

Wine Pairings

Summer time is in full swing at the vineyard with wonderful Monsoon storms bubbling
up most afternoons.

Summer means grillin’ and chillin’ and a New York Strip Steak with Balsamic Vinegar and Caramelized Onions is the best grilled meal.

Here are a couple of tips to grilling the perfect steak.
LDV Winery
New York Strip Steaks with Balsamic Vinegar
and Caramelized Onions
First, pick the right cut of beef. Thicker is better. Ask the butcher to cut them 1 1/2-inch thickness at least. Most already packaged or cut steaks at the meat counters are cut one
inch thick.

It is funny to watch the butchers at our local grocery store get so excited when Curt asks them to cut steaks to the desired thickness.

Butchers take pride in their profession so make their day and ask for a great cut of beef. And they are always willing to share their grilling secrets.

LDV Winery Another consideration is your grilling preference. We only grill over Mesquite charcoal because it burns at a high temperature and delivers a nice crust to
the steak.

So if you are grilling over gas make sure you get your grill hot before proceeding. Or run out to the store and buy a charcoal grill and donate that gas grill to your neighbor.

Only flip your steak once. Invest in a good pair of tongs to turn your meat so that the flesh will not be punctured. Flipping more than once will dry the steaks out.

Lastly, never, never puncture your beef with a knife, fork or meat thermometer to determine if it done. The proper doneness is determined by sight and touch (not puncturing).  We enjoy our steaks rare but we understand not everyone does so here are some tips.

While the steaks are cooking, check them with your fingers or the tongs by gently pushing down on the top of the steak. The firmness of the steak will tell you if it is done. The levels of firmness can be judged by how much the beef springs back when touched. The firmer the beef when cooked the more done it is. For a rare steak, the texture most closely resembles the firmness of its original state. You are on your own if you want a well-done steak.

Serve this meal with a bold wine. We believe our Lawrence Dunham Vineyards 2008 Chiricahua Mountain Syrah will hold up to a grilled New York Steak.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

LDV Winery

Upcoming Events

Lawrence Dunham Vineyards is committed to giving back to the community even before we sell our first bottle! Over the past year LDV has provided support to:
  • Fountain Hills River of Time Museum
  • Valley Youth Theatre
  • Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services (STARS)
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • Fountain Hills Community Foundation
  • Fountain Hills Cultural and Civic Association In-Home Concert
LDV Winery
Green Grapes on the Vine
First Chiricahua Circle event – Grape to Glass Symposium scheduled for August 28th.

2008 Chiricahua Mountain Syrah wine release – Late September 2010.

Stay tuned for more wine release events - winter 2010.

Join the fun. Email us at if you would like to join us at the vineyard, and we can share information about area accommodations.
LDV Winery
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