Turning a New Vine

Rivaling the vineyards in California’s famed wine country, Cella Wines in Kingman’s Valle Vista district is an unexpected desert destination.
Micah and Ginger Spencer just purchased the vineyard and winery from its founders, Carlos and Zulma Cella, and reopened the tasting room in early January.
In 2006, the Cellas purchased land in Kingman and started the vineyard and winery from scratch. It was a long process to plant and grow the grapes, but Cella patiently nurtured the plants until he was able to open his doors in January 2014.
Cella had been making wines since childhood with his Italian upbringing, and also owned a vineyard in Temecula, California. He found that the dry intense heat in Arizona actually produces better grapes for red wines.
“I didn’t know that you could grow grapes in the desert, but now that I’m here I see it and understand,” Micah Spencer said. “Carlos had said the conditions here were better than in Temecula for red grapes. I’ve been reading and trying to learn as much as I can on every aspect and I found that you don’t really want the best soil or to water them too much, because if the vine is stressed it will have higher quality grapes.”
Spencer has been busy learning all of the tricks of the trade, making a big switch from his previous career as an engineer.
“I was helping a friend look at financials for a company in Florida that was unrelated to wineries and then I decided, ‘why don’t I look at a business?’ ” he said. “When I was looking online I came across the winery in Kingman and at first I wasn’t sure because I had only driven through Kingman on the interstate. I thought I’d go check it out, so I flew out to Vegas and drove over and I liked it here, I think the views are great.”
Despite the tumultuous past year, the Spencers felt it was the right time to take a leap, so they purchased the winery. The family, which includes daughters Violet and Twyla, moved from Houston to make Kingman their new home.
“We just went for it,” Spencer said. “If there was ever a time to change careers I felt like it was now. If I waited say another 10 years, it may have been more difficult to change. So why not?”
Cella is helping with the changeover process, showing them his technique that has led to several award-winning wines.
“He’s going to continue to come back and guide us through the winemaking process,” Spencer said. “He learned from his parents while he was growing up and hopefully we’ll learn from him and continue to pass that down. That was another thing that interested me, being able to have our family here and teach them each part of the process so they can enjoy it too.
“We’ll also continue his tradition where he named his wines after members of his family. Whenever we do have a new one we’ll do that with our family. The first one will be named after the kids.”
While they plan on coming up with a few of their own blends in the future, Spencer said they will continue making Cella’s popular wines as well.
“We’re not going to change what people like,” he said. “I did a tasting when I first visited and I thought they were all good. I wouldn’t buy a business if I didn’t believe in it, so if I didn’t like them we wouldn’t be here. It’s just like any business, you have to believe in what you have and have a passion for it.”
There was not a harvest in 2020 so currently everything is bottled until the next harvest in August. Spencer said right now they are working on lots of pruning.
“We prune back all of the branches, then we’ll start seeing some buds probably in February,” he said. “Then in the spring you do thinning, where you take off some of the smaller bunches of grapes that don’t look as good, then all of the nutrients go to the better grapes for a higher quality. Then harvest is in August and we’ll start making the wine right away.”
The winery is fully stocked for tastings and they can ship to 36 states. Stop in for the grand reopening Feb. 12-15 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. each day. There will be raffles, door prizes, wine tasting and Charlie’s Rustic Pizza will be there on Saturday.
One of the giveaways will be a Valentine basket, which includes a dessert wine or Rosé, chocolates and other fun gifts. These baskets are available to purchase as well, now through Valentine’s Day.
While at the winery, ask about the wine club. Benefits include a 10% discount, a free wine tasting every time you come in and there will be member-only events. The only requirement is that members purchase 12 bottles of wine within a calendar year.
Normal hours for the winery are 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday. If guests would like to stop in a different day, they may call 928-377-2489 to make an appointment. Cella Wines is located at 6927 E. Brooks Blvd. in Kingman.
To stay updated on new wine releases and events, follow Cella Wines LLC on Facebook and Cella Winery on Instagram.