By Jeff and Suzie Dunn
|Cynthia and Rod Snapp of Javelina Leap, sharing the new season’s wines.|
Amazing how our ears perk up when the word “winery” is spoken, even from across the room! Jeff’s ears did just that during a routine visit to Village Car Care early in 2004. Rod Snapp was musing over his plans to develop his own winery and tasting room on Page Springs Road. Jeff stepped forward, introduced himself to Rod, accepted Rod’s business card and that began.
The Dunnery’s association with Javelina Leap Winery We’ve have been so fortunate to watch Rod Snapp, like the other growers and vintners in the Verde Valley, realize their dreams. In fairness to them all, we enjoy wines from each and every one. But it’s at Javelina Leap where The Dunnery Zinfandel vines live!
A little personal history. You may not know, but a fleeting thought in our 47 years of marriage was to own and operate a small California winery. After all, The Dunnery had been making homemade wine for years.
Our options of buying land in Sonoma, Calif., dried up when our major investor decided to do something different. Being practical, we shelved the idea, but kept the dream, the name and settled on retiring to Sedona.
A few years later, but before we moved here, we dined at Heartline Café and heard the magic word “winery." Jeff was discussing the wine list with our server who proceeded to tell us about locally grown wine at Echo Canyon off of Page Springs Road.
The private winery was said to have vines that were maybe seven years out from production. Even though we could not be involved, we flatlanders took a treacherous drive out to the vineyard and did witness beautiful vines and a newly built barn-like production area.
Was it possible that we would have really good wine being made near where we lived? We thought California would be the nearest we would be to wineries. Now enters the chance meeting of Rod Snapp, a gold medal Zin winemaker, who has allowed us to become a small part of his dream at Javelina Leap. 250 Zinfandel vines were issued to us. So named The Dunnery acreage, we began realizing our dream in a slightly different fashion.
Javelina Leap has been producing wine for over 5 1/2 years. During that time, we’ve had fun picking, crushing, bottling and learning how to grade and taste wines. We’ve experienced the effects of weather, soil, and viticulture expertise on grape production. The field in which our first vines were planted did not produce as hoped. An adjacent field in which new vines were planted is doing wonderfully well.
We’ve appreciated the judgment of Rod and Cynthia Snapp as to what grapes to grow locally and what to grow elsewhere -- even what to import from California. As a couple and newly married we might add, they have been bringing along their winery like a baby- enlarging barrel rooms and tasting rooms; planting more acreage; getting back into the vineyards more themselves. Cynthia quotes, “the best fertilizer is the footstep of the gardener.” It is evident in this year’s production!
In the tasting room there are or will be a Chianti-style Sangiovese as well as these others. From Crop Circle vines in Southern Arizona, formerly John Markus acreage, there is a Zinfandel, a Syrah and a Petite Syrah, more bold and complex than the Syrah.
There is a single barrel estate Zinfandel, grown on the property, which has been deemed “Reserve.” Rod explained while making wine, he and Cynthia were so wowed by the taste of a particular estate barrel of Zin that they chose quality over cost to produce an outstanding and hopefully award winning wine.
Lastly, there is a Barbera from Northern Arizona. Cynthia drew our attention to the signature taste, “that little streak of black truffle” she calls it, which is specific to grapes grown in the volcanic soil of Arizona, both north and south.
Javelina Leap is propagating its own vines in other Northern Arizona fields-five and a half acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in Skull Valley, west of Prescott, and one and a half acres of Cabernet Franc on neighboring fields.
Sounds like the Snapps will be tending their winery for many years to come. We hope to see great tasting Zinfandel from the Dunnery field in the near future.
Cynthia Snapp is as skilled in the kitchen as she is in the winery. Her sense of taste works equally well in both. She has shared one of her great recipes for our readers to enjoy.
Thanks, Rod and Cynthia, for your time, talent and friendship. We hope those of our readers who enjoy wine not only stop in at the Javelina Leap tasting room when on the “wine road” but also ask for Javelina Leap and other Arizona wines when dining out.
The Vintner’s Wife’s White Chili (Serves 10-12)
Inspired by zesty mustards from Divine Gourmet
Ingredients: * key to outcome of recipe
1-2 pounds of ground turkey, chicken & or pork
1 Cup yellow onion diced
6 cloves garlic diced/crushed
1 Cup green pepper, diced
1 Cup celery, diced
1 cup Yukon potato, diced
2 Cups pre-roasted fresh or frozen corn*
3-4 Tablespoons smokey deli mustard*
4-6 Tablespoons peanut or canola oil, half used at a time
Sea Salt (to taste)
Fresh Ground Pepper (to taste)
1 Tablespoon (or more, if desired) fresh chili powder
¼ Cup Frank’s Hot Sauce* (or more, if desired)
8 Ounce can of diced strewed tomatoes
6 ounce can of tomato paste
15 ounce can chick peas or any white bean
15 ounce can black beans
1 Cup vegetable juice such as V-8
In a large skillet, sauté celery, green pepper, onion, potato and garlic in 2-3T. oil until crisp tender. Add roasted corn. Stir in deli mustard. Set aside. Brown meat in 2-3 T. oil, leaving meat in small chunks. Sprinkle met with salt, pepper, chili powder, hot sauce, stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable juice.
Combine vegetables with meat. Add water if mixture seems too thick, Cover and simmer 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are done. Season to taste.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream, crusty bread and your favorite Javelina Leap red wine.