Young is the kind of place where you can run into a hunter dressed up like a shaggy tree at the local general store refueling on beer and then walk across the street and taste award-winning wine.
Young blends small town and wild country, a history both bitter and sweet.
On a recent Sunday, the Roundup found quads buzzing up and down the only paved road in town, children playing out in vast picturesque pastures and neighbors out gathering apples in their yards.
The peaceful scene gave little hint that the area served as the setting for the bloody Graham-Tewksbury feud of 1886, part of the Pleasant Valley War. The conflict annihilated two feuding families, but on this Sunday it seemed never to have taken place.
The only thing still spinning are the windmills, which dot the landscape and are featured predominately as the logo of the area’s namesake wine.
Today, the Pleasant Valley Winery is one of the area’s biggest draws. Founded in 2000 by Jim and Marie Petroff, the little log cabin harbors a pleasant tasting room off State Route 188.
The only winery in Gila County offers several blends, including many ribbon winners.
One of the most popular is their Summer Honey wine, made with local honey and fruit and based on an old Viking recipe.
Blue ribbon winners also include a dry Outlaw wine, pomegranate blush and pinot noir blush, an Arizona State Fair 2011 winner.
The couple says their wine is blended with water windmill-pumped from their private well with no added sulfites.
The winery is among many in Arizona. Slowly, Arizona has gained a reputation for great wines — with unusual twists. At a recent tasting event in Pinetop, more than a dozen wineries from around the state set up tables. Most wineries are either based out of southern Arizona (Sonita), the Willcox area or the Verde Valley, where growing conditions are best and wineries have set up wine tours. The Pleasant Valley winery stands alone in Gila County.
Since it is relatively easy to open a winery though, more and more families and entrepreneurs are dipping into the business.
The Pleasant Valley tasting room is open daily April through December from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From January through March, tastings are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For info visit www.PVWinery.com.
IF YOU GO
From Payson, head east on Highway 260 roughly 31 miles. Head south on State Route 512, the Young Road. The road is paved several miles just off 260 and in Young, but most of the 25 miles in between is unpaved, but passable in most vehicles.