Arizona, Wine/Cocktails

Meet the Winemaker

Anyone who has ever been to a wine tasting at a winery knows the person responsible for the wines, the winemaker, is rarely available to share insights and secrets. Greg and I have been to dozens of wineries all across this great nation (and the world) and have only met the actual winemaker a handful of times. So, when we had the opportunity to attend a private tasting with a favorite Austrian winemaker, we jumped at the chance.

Michael Opitz is the genius behind the reds, whites, blends and specialty wines from his winery in Eastern Austria. We’ve tried, and loved, MANY of his wines since we discovered them through an importer of boutique wines from around the world. 

Michael Opitz shares a laugh with us as we taste his wine.

This particular evening, we headed into Phoenix for our tasting. The setup included seating for about 30 people complete with savory and sweet treats for tasting and nibbling while we sampled ten new wines bearing Michael’s signature eyeball design.

The wines were set out and ready to be opened.

Michael shared stories from his winery, secrets of his vineyard and a few tidbits about what makes his wines so delicious, but somehow easy to drink and pair with almost anything.

Liza set out savory and sweet treats to pair with the wines.

We laughed and sipped and guessed what unnamed grape was included in a secret blend that left us drooling and imagining all the new recipes we could try it with. It was, we decided, the perfect combination of Austrian elegance and Italian fun and che gioia vivere (joy of living).

Greg and our table mates discuss favorites.

Meeting the winemaker is always special. Meeting one from the other side of the world is even moreso. His ability to explain why rare grapes grow well in a geographically unique area made it easy to understand why he’s able to achieve such remarkable blends. Michael’s whites are chilling in our cooler and his reds are stored appropriately where we can pop the cork and sip away whenever we need the perfect wine for any occasion.

Red wine and short ribs make for a delicious dinner.

We’ve been buying wines from select imported wines for almost four years and this was the first event in their tasting room for us. Of course, COVID stopped many events for a couple of years. In the meantime, we visited Liza and her team at wine shows across the valley. She knows what we like now and always has great ideas of new wines we should try. This event was such a smash hit for us, we’re already watching for what’s next! 

Three of Michael’s wines were part of a virtual tasting during COVID. They were a big hit.

Arizona has a growing wine industry with tasting rooms in Scottsdale and just up the road a couple hours in Cottonwood. If you want to go to a winery, though, you have to head to the southeast corner of the state where dozens of vineyards dot the landscape and provide grapes to nearby wineries. If you’re a wine lover like I am, there’s always a reason to sip a glass … but the chance to get up close and personal with the face behind the wine is rare.

There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Pop a cork and enjoy it with a nice glass of wine.

© The World A to Z, LLC 2023 — Unless otherwise indicated, no compensation was received for this blog.

3 thoughts on “Meet the Winemaker”

  1. It was great seating with you at this fantastic wine tasting. Machrina and I enjoyed visiting with Greg and you. This was our 2nd time to meet Michael. His wine has always been good and are improving with every new vintage.

    Another was to get to meet wine makers from small boutique European wineries is travel to Europe with Liza. Cheers 🥂

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  2. Judy, thank you for the amazing blog about this special winemaker and event. I always love seeing you two and sharing with with you. One of the best parts about wine are the friends we’ve made and discovering the unique wines from around the world with you. Hugs cans cheers, Liza

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    1. Feel free to share the link far and wide 😉 I couldn’t post it on my community page because the moderator says it’s too much like an ad. 😞

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