The Pleasant Valley Winery, Gila County’s first, will hold an open house Saturday, April 7 to kick off their business. Although the winery only received its license a year ago, its already winning awards.
Jim Petroff learned the secrets of making wine from his Hungarian Gypsy uncle, who always had a 50-gallon barrel in his cellar. At all family gatherings, the men would sneak down to sample the wine. During the summer when Petroff was 15, his uncle taught him how to make wine.
In 1978 Petroff and his wife Marie brewed their first batch of wine. “We lived in northern California and had a bumper crop of blackberries,” said Marie.
This first batch foreshadowed their talent at making wine. After locals tried their spirits, they found they slept better and aches and pains disappeared. News traveled fast and soon the Petroffs had visitors asking for their wine at all hours.
Not ready to make the plunge into full-time wine making at the beginning of their career, the Petroffs decided to return to their computer consulting business with IBM. However, they dreamed of returning to wine making in the future.
More than 12 years ago, they retired and decided to move to Arizona. When they drove into Young, they both knew they had found the perfect place to start their second career as winemakers.
On April 7, the Petroffs will host an open house at their Little Log Cabin Wine Shop from noon until 5 p.m at 3023 Walnut Creek Road in Young. They will have wines to taste, food, live music and at 3 p.m. a ceremony and blessing by Mr. Chester Brown, a Navajo medicine and holy man.
The Petroffs won an international award for their Mead made from local Young honey. They have also won a Florida state fair medal for their Muscadine Red, a wine made from the type of grapes first used to make wine by America’s original European inhabitants.
The Petroffs make their wines from different grape varieties including the Amarone, Pinot Noir and Riesling, but they also use elderberries, pomegranates, plums and apples. Most of what they use to make wines they purchase from other growers, but they hope to make Young a wine producing area, since it is already a fruit producing region. The Petroffs have planted pears, peaches and apples in their orchard already.
“We are the only growth industry in Young,” said Marie, “Our motto is ‘We make good tasting wines for nice people who like to enjoy wine.’”