Next Time I’ll Wear The Elastic Pants
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of supporting local, and I love what’s happening with Arizona wine. While I’m new-ish to the world o’ wine – at least in exploring wine beyond a casual fan’s interest – I’m amazed and delighted to have had the pleasure to partake in all that this state and its dedicated growers and producers have to offer. I’ll shout it from the rooftops unabashedly. I heart Arizona wine!
But I owe a lot of that passion and knowledge to one person in particular – perhaps one of the greatest champions and advocates of Arizona wine in the nation…Pavle Milic.
Most Arizona foodies have encountered Pavle in some capacity, whether at his award-winning restaurant FnB, (which he co-owns with the ridiculously talented Chef Charleen Badman), at the Old Town Farmer’s Market (affectionately known as OTFM to regulars) or perhaps during his Ignite Phoenix presentation.
Now then…how to describe Pavle; he’s just downright rad. Beyond being a genuinely nice, incredibly generous guy with a big heart, he’s a community builder, and I credit him with my love for Arizona wine.
While Kent Callaghan put Arizona wine on the map, and Maynard Keenan and Eric Glomski have created some serious nation-wide buzz, Pavle has taken it one step further. He’s done something pretty ambitious that has paid off big for him AND Arizona. He created an all-Arizona wine list. That’s right. Every single wine (and beer) on the FnB menu is homegrown.
Pavle and chef Charleen nabbed some serious attention from the wine world, and even earned a mention in the New York Times, when they organized what they called “Arizona Judgement 2010.” They pulled together some of the wine world’s heaviest hitters to do a blind tasting, including Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV (now The Daily Grape), acclaimed New York City chef Laura Williamson, local favorite Chris Bianco and more.
To sustain that excitement and energy, each month, FnB does something special – a winemaker dinner series that highlights one Arizona winery, and pairs that grower’s catalog of wines with the most delicately, impeccably paired dishes, prepared by Chef Badman herself (what a killer last name, right?).
Last week I attended Dick Erath’s wine dinner (yes, the same guy who built the Oregon-based Erath brand that’s now a household name), who has built a vineyard called Cimmaron in Willcox, AZ. Cimmaron wines are a result of a collaboration between Dick, and Todd Bostock of Dos Cabezas, who produces the wines that Dick grows and cultivates in his vineyard. If you would like a bit of background on how that partnership formed, it’s a really interesting story, and worth a read.
Back to the FnB wine dinner. What I absolutely LOVE about FnB is their die-hard commitment to sourcing local, organic and sustainable products. That philosophy is reflected in both the food and the wine. It’s not hard to see why I love this place, and I am totally guilty of acting the pied-piper role. Friend’s give me a hard time for my fangirl ways, but when they’re pushing back from the table after having tried it for the first time, pants feeling euphorically snug, I never hear a single complaint.
For someone like me, who wants to soak up everything possible about wine and supporting local, this is quite possibly the best resource I have ever been lucky enough to stumble upon. I feel unabashedly giddy about the fact that I have someone like Pavle (one of the greatest community connectors and most generous people, period) living, creating and existing in my city. He and Chef Charleen are doing something truly special and unique here, and that movement is building steam.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Pavle in your city, or have a cool story to tell about Pavle, Chef Charleen or your own FnB experience, drop it in the comments below. I’ll be sure to forward on your thoughts and comments.