We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenelle Bonifield and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jenelle, as a parent, what do you feel is the most meaningful thing you’ve done for them?
I have always encouraged my children to follow their passion. Nothing is impossible. I have shown by example that following your heart brings about opportunities. My children have witnessed that hard work and dedication equals results and success. If your plans do not go as expected, it’s OK to be flexible and change your course of action. All of my children have formed their own LLC’s and are following their own entrepreneur’s path.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

I shifted from graphic design and motion graphics to a career in photography about 10 years ago. My mentor, Debby Wolvos, was a great person to learn food photography with. I was drawn to the Arizona wine industry when my friends started a winery, LDV Winery. I fell in love with vineyard & winery photography.

In 2016 I won an international wine photography award and that catapulted me forward. From there, a desire to document the Arizona wine industry was born, since so many Arizonans are unaware of the amazing wine produced locally. I wanted to share my love of the local wine industry. The winemakers and wine industry people are among the hardest working, passionate people I have ever met, and I wanted to showcase that.

For me, it was not always easy traveling all over the state between my regular assignments, but worth it. Harvest time means photographing night workers and pre-dawn workers, with little sleep in between locations. Night harvest can start at 9:00 pm and sunrise can start at 4:30 am in the summer, and often pre-dawn harvesting will start at 2:00 or 3:00 am because of the daytime heat. Various seasonal stages of the vines mean multiple trips to the same location. Capturing snowfall is a special time. The wind, heat, and cold can be intense. There is not always food and water available in remote areas, so bringing necessities is important. I always travel with gallons of water and sun/cold protection!

Learning drone photography was a necessary step to fully capture the beauty of the terrain around the vineyards. I added that to my skillset and image library for my book.

In the three-plus years I photographed and worked on my book, “AZ Uncorked, The Arizona Wine Guide”, I learned nothing is impossible, ask and it will usually happen, follow your passion, and learn as you grow. If you have a desire to create, make it so! Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Be inspired by your subject matter, in my case, the wine industry.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Showing my best friend around always involves Arizona wine. If I’m in the city, we start in Old Town Scottsdale’s tasting rooms that include LDV Winery, Merkin Vineyards, Salvatore Vineyards, and Carlson Creek Vineyards. Most tasting rooms have food items, but there are dozens of restaurants sprinkled through Old Town. We love to go to Tottie’s Asian Fusion just a bit south of Old Town on Thomas – the Tottie Rolls are the best!

Next we go to GenuWIne Arizona Wine Bar downtown Phoenix to sample their self serve wine bar and snack on delicious local treats. For dinner, we dine at Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Desert Botanical Gardens, where – guess what? More Arizona wine and amazing entrees served on their outdoor patio. Try the Fried Cauliflower & Shishito lighter fare so you have room for Donuts & Sauces dessert!

Always, the Verde Valley is a favorite destination just 1.5 hours north. On the way, we take a slight diversion to Dewey, AZ to sample Mogollon Vineyards award winning wine. Back on I-17, we carefully pace ourselves to visit just a few of over 20 tasting rooms between Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Jerome, Cornville and Sedona. Snacks from Page Springs Cellars bistro keep us grounded while doing wine flights. A late lunch finds us at Merkin Vineyard’s Old Town Cottonwood location to feast on Chef Christopher Smith’s scrumptious creations (Pasta!). A few more tasting rooms, and then to Up the Creek in Cornville for dinner.

Next on the list takes us 2 hours south to Tucson (on the way to Sonoita/Elgin and Willcox). Seis Kitchen has the best tacos on the planet. Conveniently just a stone’s toss off I-10 on Congress, either breakfast, lunch or dinner will do! A must-stop. On to visit Pete and Jeanne Snell’s Arizona Wine Collective on Campbell Avenue, we learn about the latest vintages available on their tasting menu. It’s always so much fun to stop in.

Now we head to one of the state’s most beautiful areas, Sonoita/Elgin 45 minutes southeast of Tucson. With over a dozen tasting rooms, there’s never a dull moment in this laid back setting, Chef/owner Adam Puckle’s The Cafe on Highway 82 is a great place to dine for lunch or dinner. The Winemaker’s Casita is a cozy AirBnb owned by local winemaker James Callahan, Rune Wines, which has one of the best outdoor tasting rooms. Also we stop at The Meading Room and local distilleries and breweries, just to balance our tasting experiences.

Back on I-10 east, we head to Willcox (3 hours from Phoenix). Over 70% of the state’s wine grapes are grown in this area. There are many wineries and tasting rooms to be visited. Most are scattered over a vast agricultural area, but downtown Willcox has several tasting rooms in walking distance of each other. We stop at winemaker Mark Phillip’s Willcox Commercial Building where Golden Rule Vineyards, Copper Horse Vineyards and Strive Vineyards occupy a common space. Birds & Barrels Vineyards is just down the block with great flights. Carlson Creek Vineyards is always a fun stop. La Unica Restaurant and Tortilleria is perfect for lunch. Our last stop is at Pillsbury Wine Company and we always hope to catch Sam Pillsbury in the tasting room, pouring his award winning selections!

Just a minute away is our delightful AirBnb Quonset Hut at Rhumb Line Vineyard. This is a five star AirBnB – I believe it is the nicest one I have ever stayed in. To a pillow snob like myself, they get my praise. Michelle and Todd have hand selected the best pillows, linens and bedding to make your stay absolutely luxurious. Rhumb Line is a large wine grape grower for many Arizona wineries, with impeccable fruit. We make sure to purchase some of Michelle’s ALL LUV Natural Products to keep that peaceful Willcox feeling in the forefront of our minds.

Now back to Phoenix to enjoy some home cooking and pool time.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout first goes to my family and friends who supported my dream to create the first coffee table book on Arizona wine, “AZ Uncorked, The Arizona Wine Guide.” Without the encouragement from so many, I would have had a very difficult time. My tribe believed in my dream, and me. Secondly, I want to give a shoutout to my team of contributors for my book, which would be impossible without them: Erik Berg, Darla Hoffmann, Elizabeth Krecker, Elaine Chukan Brown, Cody Burkett, Pavle Milic, Nikki Check, Michelle Jacob, Annabel Sclippa, Richard Betts, and Libby Davis. Thanks to Debby Wolvos, Debby Burgoyne, my mom Nell Rudy, and my children who all assisted on photoshoots: Sarah Mitchell, Isla Bonifield, and Jaedon Bonifield. I had unwavering support from my husband, Tom, and his contributing skills of editing and art assistance. Pamela Garrett was my cheerleader & helped me stay on course. Thanks to my Public Relations friends Susan Kricun and Jane Gordon. A big shoutout to my printer Courier Graphics that worked with me to keep this a local Arizona product – thank you!

Website: www.arizonawineguide.com

Instagram: @arizonawineguide

Linkedin: jenellebonifield

Twitter: @azwineguide

Facebook: arizonawineguide

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