Tantrum Wines of Willcox
In the decades since Dr. Gordon Dutt wrote a cleverly masked grant proposal to conduct a feasibility study on wine grape growing. We have seen the quiet, but steady rise of Arizona wine. From being served at the White House to bagging an elusive 90 points from Robert Parker, Arizona wines have their own special charisma. You can’t have charisma without the characters and here is one that brazenly steps outside the norms to put what is truly in her heart into every bottle. Brighid McLoughlin is the founder and winemaker for Tantrum Wines out of Willcox. Her tasting room in Old Town Cottonwood is the first clue that you are cheerfully being asked to leave your preconceived notions at the door. Upon meeting Brighid, you quickly understand that she has a warm, yet focused heart that beats for the industry that she refuses to bend to.
“No one sits around their patio leisurely discussing notes of lemongrass and tangerine. Friends are spending time together, laughing, catching up and making precious memories,” she says. “Wine is the best background music.” Tantrum Wines is not just a name, it’s a presence. Her eclectic Tasting Suite, as she calls it, is a feast for the eyes, tailor made for selfies. “It’s an unapologetically fun spot where everyone is made to feel like they can drop all the undue pretense and just be themselves. It’s wine, it’s supposed to be fun.” How does one give wine a personality? Brighid credits her mentor and husband, award winning Arizona wine pioneer John McLoughlin, (Cellar 433 and Winery 1912). “I’ve always said he was Arizona’s best kept secret. As his assistant I had to put up with his perfectionism and seemingly endless procedures, but when it came to artistry, he allowed me the freedom to play, to have fun with yeast selections, fermentation decisions, all of it. He encouraged me to start my own collection and I brushed it off for a long time. He said he could sense that I didn’t want to make wine like the good old boys. It’s true, I don’t. I want to do it my way. Impressing those who require it isn’t really my style. Making wines that become part of beautiful memories is.