When Ahwatukee Foothills residents Rhona MacMillan and Mark Jorve retired they became the busiest they’ve ever been, following their dreams and opening a vineyard in Willcox, Ariz.
MacMillan says the two searched many business options as they got close to retirement. The kids were out of the house and they were ready to get out of the corporate world. The couple had always enjoyed wine but they’d never tried to make any before, so it was a surprise to many when they decided to get into the wine business.
“We thought it was perfect for us,” MacMillan said. “We love wine. We drink a lot of wine. This was an opportunity for us to start with a vineyard, grow our own grapes, and get into wine making. It combined our passion for wine, but we also wanted to do something where we were working outdoors. We love hiking and gardening. The opportunity to combine the two was perfect for us.”
The couple discovered that the wine industry in Willcox is relatively young, but growing quickly. Getting in to the business now gave them a chance to grow with the industry.
In 2010 the couple planted their first vines. They have 20 acres of land in Willcox, but only have vines growing on six acres. The work is constant, watching over 5,000 vines mostly on their own, but MacMillan said the work is enjoyable.
“Sometimes we get so consumed with the work every day that we forget to just sit down and look at how far we’ve come,” she said. “It’s an incredible amount of work. It’s a lot of hard physical labor in the vineyard getting things going, but this is our dream right now.”
MacMillan said the best part of owning their own vineyard is knowing that what they put in is what they get out. Above all, she loves being her own boss.
While their own grapes have been growing the couple has been learning about wine making from Sand-Reckoner Vineyards and is using that facility to make their first wines. Eventually, they’ll move all wine production to their own facility.
MacMillan said their wines are old-world style. They have both red and whites that they show off in their tasting room at the vineyard. This weekend they’ll bring their wines back to Ahwatukee to let their old community see what they’ve been up to.
The couple will host a wine tasting at Wedge and Bottle Cheese Shop, 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 44, on Sunday, March 10 from 1 to 4 p.m.
For more information on the couple’s vineyard, located at 6777 S. Zarpara Lane in Willcox, visit zarpara.com or call (602) 885-8903.
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