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Copper Horse Vineyard — Where technology meets biodynamics

WILLCOX — Sitting in the sunshine on Railroad Avenue, Copper Horse Vinyard owner Eric Desfachelles discussed the story of his winery.

Contributed Photo/ 

The Copper Horse Vineyard consists of five acres and six varieties of grapevines. A bill that passed the House Commerce Committee could enable local growers to expand production.

The Copper Horse Vineyard is planted on the slope of the Sulfur Canyon, near Rodeo, N.M. Desfachelles told the Range News that the vineyard was purchased in 2000, the vineyard was planted in 2013 and he has since moved the Desfachelles family permanently onto the vineyard land.

Eventually, Desfachelles began a partnership with Mark Phillips and the Golden Rule crushing facility. The Copper Horse Vineyard consists of five acres and six varieties of grapevine.

Brooke Curley Photo/Arizona Range News  

Eric Desfachelles, owner of Copper Horse Vinyard, pours at the Copper Horse Tasting dual tasting room on Railroad Avenue in Willcox.

One of the things that make Desfachelles’ style of growing different from other vineyard owners is his specific type of chemical-free sustainability.

“I don’t use chemicals. I’m trying to be sustainable so I use the manure from my wife’s horse, from the goats, mixed with shredded paper and ashes. And that’s what I use in the vineyard. I’m trying to be biodynamic,” Desfachelles said.

“I follow the cycle of the moon and planets. I know when it’s time to rest or to eat when to spray when to do anything. It makes a wine that’s more powerful. Has more energy in it. If you harvest when the moon is getting fuller than all the energy goes into the fruit. But you plant when the moon is getting on the last quarter, then all the energy goes in the root. So it’s better to plant at that point.”

Desfachelles told the Range News that the large vineyards in California are so massive that they have to rely on pesticide chemicals to operate. Desfachelles told the Range News that he prefers to not use any chemicals except for sulfur dioxide (SO2). This chemical, SO2 is inherent to grapes. helps preserve wine and naturally dissipates very quickly in the process.

Contributed Photo 

Copper Horse Vineyard grapevines grow to fruition under the Arizona Sun.

“Here we are, we moved to Arizona, planted, made wine (and) started selling. Now we have a tasting room, but it’s small. We are a small boutique winery, we do about 400 gallons. The minimum is 200,” said Desfachelles.

In 2018 Copper Horse was awarded three silver medals for the vineyard’s 2017 Sangiovese. The next year Copper Horse won a silver medal for its dry Riesling 2017 and a gold medal its Grenache 2017.

In the next six months, Copper Horse will be releasing a Syrah.

Desfachelles told the Range News that he loves to pair wine with food. Also, Desfachelles calls tasting his wines a tour of France, except for his Sangiovese, which is an Italian style of wine.

Contributed Photo 

Meeting technology with sustainability, the Copper Horse Vineyard uses a prototype robot from France called WALL-YE, which mows the grass in the vineyard on its own using two cameras and a GPS.

Meeting technology with sustainability, the Copper Horse vinyard also has a prototype robot from France called WALL-YE, which mows the grass in the vineyard on its own using two cameras and a GPS to guide itself.

The Copper Horse Vineyard wine tasting room is located in the Willcox Commercial Building at 180 N. Railroad Ave.


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Wings Over Willcox soars in 2020

WILLCOX — After a year of dramatic changes, the Wings Over Willcox Birding Festival took flight.

In 2019, the Wings Over Willcox Birding and Nature Festival left the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture to operate beneath a newly formed 501©3 organization called the Willcox Nature Association.

This year’s festival included tour buses, vendors and knowledgeable presenters. Many of the Wings Over Willcox activities were located in the Willcox Community Center. The birding banquet was sold out.

“We came to this last year. We did the hawk stalk last year and we had a ball,” said Donna Hurley, who visits Arizona from Kodiak, Alaska. “This is twice that we’ve been down here. I like Willcox. I think it’s really cool. We came to see the cranes.”

In a previous interview in 2019, Homer Hansen, who orchestrated the creation of the Willcox Nature Association, told the Range News that this year’s festival will focus on quality over quantity.

“The festival was superb. We had 156 registrants, which appears to be double the past two to three years,” Hansen said. “We had 18 vendors, which is four times the amount of the previous two years. We have an ambiance of a small connected family feel. An ambiance of everybody knowing everybody. It was superb. Everybody knowing everybody. It was like birders Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful return to the festival. In all sincerity, we anticipate next year to be even better.”