A small family business based in Jerome, AZ, Passion Cellars was born out of a love for wine, travel and culture. In fact, it wasn’t until after years of exploring and tasting some of the world’s best wines that the idea of Passion Cellars was even born.
We talked to Jason Domanico, winemaker at Passion Cellars, to get his take on how a dream can become a reality if you’re willing to work for it.
CRUSHBREW: Can you tell us a bit about what inspired the creation of Passion Cellars, what the beginnings were like and how did you get involved with the wine industry yourself?
JASON DOMANICO: Passion Cellars was created as an outlet for my passion, wine-making. I am the grandson of a man named Salvatore. Salvatore was the last winemaker in my family. I wanted to carry on the family tradition of making wine. I named our reserve line of wines, Salvatore Vineyards. Knowing that reserve wines will take time to be aged and perfected, I started out with our first line of wines, Passion Cellars.
After learning from my family, I got involved with some of the great winemakers in Arizona to learn as much as I could. Passion Cellars represents handcrafted wines including whites, rose’ wines, and reds. Salvatore represents the best of the best that we have, small batch, in some cases just one barrel.
CB: Arizona has grown considerably as a desired location for wineries over the past few years. What prompted that growth and how has the location helped you develop Passion Cellars?
JD: Arizona is an exciting place to make wine. The youth of the industry has allowed us to be experimental in our wine making and grape growing. There is a very supportive and loyal group of wine drinkers in this state that have enjoyed the growth of the many great wineries. That group of wine drinkers has embraced us and we are very grateful.
CB: You make some very unique wines, including the 2013 Grenache (which includes hints of strawberry and smoky herbs). How do you decide how daring you can be with your wines and how do you choose your undertones?
JD: We are very interested in experimentation with different grapes, blends, and winemaking styles. Because this industry is so young we really believe ‘best practices’ in wine making have yet to be decided upon. We will always strive to make food friendly and age-able wines but at the same time push the boundaries on style.
CB: You also use a special system to increase the sugar content of your wines naturally. How does that work?
JD: We make one desert wine with Verdelho grapes. We leave the grapes on the vines to run the sugar levels up, ferment and leave residual sugar. The resulting late harvest wine is excellent and provides a unique after dinner wine.
CB: You have a very unique wine club that is actually free to join but offers tons of benefits. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
JD: We have developed a wine club that allows the members to not only get a substantial discount on our wines but free tastings at our three locations around the state. Member’s also get exclusive wines that are not released to the public and our first releases. It is free to join, we send out three shipments of six bottles throughout the year.