Kitchen Doors: A Celebration of Arizona

In recent years, Cottonwood, located about 100 miles from Phoenix, has flourished with a variety of local restaurants and several tasting rooms featuring Arizona wines. The newest addition to Cottonwood’s Main Street is the 7-acre Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars complex, with amazing views, beautiful vineyards, a greenhouse and a wine production facility. The complex is home to Merkin Vineyards Hilltop Winery & Trattoria, offering fresh Italian food and wine flights, and the Velvet Slippers Club Ventura Room, an intimate private dining experience with tapas and exclusive wines. At the bottom of the hill is the Merkin Vineyards Pocket Park Gelateria.

“The local community has watched this project grow over the past several years and there was a lot of anticipation,” said Calvin Arnold, national sales director for Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards. “We are thrilled with the support we’ve received from both locals and visitors. People are discovering this hilltop where we are growing grapes, making wine and presenting what this area has to offer.” 

Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards are family-owned wineries based in Jerome with a strong presence in Arizona. Owner and winemaker Maynard James Keenan, lead singer for the band Tool, moved to Jerome in 1995.

In 2009, Caduceus opened a tasting room in Jerome. The Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room & Osteria opened in Cottonwood in 2016. “The focus was wine, but people started gravitating to our food and pasta programs,” Arnold said.

In addition to Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards, the family of brands has grown to include Four 8 Wineworks, which has tasting rooms in Jerome and Cottonwood, and Puscifer Queen B, a line of canned wines. A Merkin Vineyards tasting room and restaurant opened in Old Town Scottsdale in 2019.

As of 2014, all of the grapes used to produce these wines are grown in southern Arizona and northern Arizona’s Verde Valley. “We take a lot of pride in where we come from. Everything we do, from our branding to our labels, is an homage to where we live,” Arnold said.

In addition to focusing on Arizona wine, the brands have multiple greenhouses and orchards throughout the state that grow a variety of items, including basil, mushrooms, microgreens and apples.

The Trattoria menu at the hilltop facility is dominantly Italian and features produce grown in the greenhouses and orchards, as well as fresh bread and pasta. Popular menu items include gnocchi with sage and prosciutto cream sauce and the Merkin mac and cheese, prickly pear-infused pasta with pancetta and mascarpone cream sauce. The menu also offers wood-oven pizza, bruschetta and wine flights. 

“Everything on the menu is made to pair with wine, as that is our focus,” Arnold said. “We grow as much as we can and try to source locally as much as possible. We have a taste of Arizona in everything we do.”

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About Shoshana Leon

Shoshana Leon is a culinary writer for Frontdoors Media and creator of Foodie Fo Sho.

From Frontdoors Magazine

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