Travel: Postcard from Cottonwood, Arizona

Dusk in downtown Cottonwood, Arizona.
Dusk in downtown Cottonwood, Arizona. | Dennis Lennox

Forget Sedona, which in recent years has become openly hostile to tourists, and instead plan a trip to nearby Cottonwood.

The once-sleepy town with its population of 12,029 souls has become a destination in its own right, thanks to Arizona’s growing wine industry.

This is most evident in Cottonwood’s downtown, where a considerable number of storefronts in the Historic Old Town — listed on the National Register of Historic Places as examples of commercial architecture from the first half of the 20th century — have been converted into wine tasting rooms.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.
The Verde Valley surrounds Cottonwood, Arizona.
The Verde Valley surrounds Cottonwood, Arizona. | Dennis Lennox

Within the immediate surrounding area are 19 vineyards and 136 acres under vine in the Verde Valley appellation, which since late 2021 has been designated as an official American viticultural area.

Some of the closest vineyards are Alcantara Vineyards and Page Springs Cellars in Cornville, where the late John McCain lived. A full map and accompanying Verde Valley wine passport can be picked up at the tourist office on Main Street, next to Cottonwood City Hall.

Wines include those made from universally known chardonnay grape, but also somewhat lesser-known varietals that just happen to thrive in Arizona’s climate. Think Rhone-inspired blends of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre; the Spanish mainstay tempranillo; and even orange wine from malvasia bianca.

Visitors shouldn’t overlook the local community college, Yavapai College. The school’s Southwest Wine Center isn’t just a place for students to learn winemaking and land jobs in the industry. Oenophiles are welcome to visit the 13-acre vineyard and sample wines from the center’s own label.

If you go

Consider booking a room at the retro Iron Horse Inn. The updated 1930s-era motor court hotel — hence the name motel –– is clean, comfortable and located right in downtown Cottonwood. Visitors who prefer a chain hotel will want to stay at Marriott’s Springhill Suites.

Main Street in Cottonwood, Arizona.
Main Street in Cottonwood, Arizona. | Dennis Lennox

Eat downtown at Nic’s Italian Steak & Crab House or Pizzeria Bocce Patio Bar. Another superb choice is Up the Creek by Page Springs Cellars, where the seriously fine wine list includes around 180 selections.

Verde Adventures offers an approximately two-hour, self-guided kayak tour of the Verde River that starts and finishes at Alcantara Vineyards, where a tasting is included in the cost. At Alcantara, visitors will find 17 grape varietals among the 20,000 vines.

Cottonwood is two hours by car from Phoenix, Arizona’s biggest city. Flying in and out of Las Vegas (almost five hours away) is another option, depending on factors like airfare, flight times and rental car rates.

Dennis Lennox writes a travel column for The Christian Post.

Dennis Lennox writes about travel, politics and religious affairs. He has been published in the Financial Times, Independent, The Detroit News, Toronto Sun and other publications. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles