Vail.  In Southern Arizona, the name conjures up images of trains, caves, cattle ranches, and scenic vistas. Maybe you don’t think of grapes and wine, but the Vail area also has a history of grape growing and wine making. Over 100 years ago table grapes were a regularly planted crop throughout Southern Arizona, but the fickle nature of growing them gave way to other crops easier to cultivate on a large scale.

Jump forward to the 1980s and pioneer winemaker Bob Webb had his winery running right here in Vail. Mr. Webb might have been a bit ahead of his time as he shut down operations around 1995. The site still exists; however. You probably drive by it all the time and never realize it. It’s the empty mission style building on the north side of Interstate 10 between the Hwy 83 exit and the Colossal Cave exit. But the wine industry also has continuity here. In the mid-1990s, 1995 to be exact, Leo Cox planted his first vines 7 miles south of I-10 on Hwy 281 right here in Vail. His vines and winery are still going strong.

Mr. Cox retired in late 2009 and sold the vineyard and winery to Susan and Milton Craig. They retained the original name, Charron Vineyards, but have greatly expanded and enhanced the tasting experience.

One of the few winery tasting rooms in Arizona set in the midst of their vineyard, guests can enjoy a selection of fine wines while experiencing the vineyard and views of the Empire and Santa Rita Mountains.

Guests are encouraged to relax while the wine tastings are brought to their table, and the server explains the journey of each wine from grape to the glass.  There are also picnic baskets of cheeses and meats available to enjoy with the wines.

Charron Vineyards and Winery is open from 10 until 6, Thursday through Sunday. The tasting room is located just off Hwy 83, 7 miles south of I-10.  Watch for the signage. More information can be found at

Now it can be known – wine should be included as part of Vail’s collection of rich history and attractions.


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