Construction crews got a head start on the Copper Brothel Brewery in Sonoita last week. The official groundbreaking is Friday, June 23, and the owners hope to open later this year.

The Jesser family has toyed with craft brewing for a few years now.

Nothing big, just dabbling with a pretty fancy home-brewing set-up.

But when Robert and Cheryl Jesser came across Robert’s father’s bucket list after he passed away in 2015, they decided to cross off one of his biggest dreams: open a business. And what better idea in the middle of Southern Arizona’s wine country than a brewery, tapping into their passion for craft brewing.

The Colorado transplants, along with their daughter Samantha, are breaking ground Friday, June 23, for Copper Brothel Brewery, a 5,000-square-foot restaurant/brewery near the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds at 3112 Highway 83, just south of the crossroads of Highways 82 and 83.

Construction of the steel building should take about two months and they hope to open for business later this year, Cheryl Jesser said.

Daughter Samantha will be the brewmaster, crafting a half-dozen or so beers at a time. The initial lineup could include a blonde, IPA, pale ale, German-style Kölsch, oatmeal stout and a vanilla porter, which they test-ran over the holidays. They also will offer a handful of Arizona craft beers among the 18 on tap, Cheryl said.

The restaurant will serve a menu of high-end pub food, from burgers and salads to barbecue. They have not finalized the menu nor hired a chef, she said, but both are in the works.

The Jessers have never been in the restaurant business, but they have years of business experience. The couple has a logistics company back home in Colorado that moves products around the world. The company is idle now with the couple living in Sonoita, although they still maintain a few smaller clients, Cheryl said.

The Jessers moved to Arizona from Colorado in 2013 to get Robert Jesser’s dad, Glenn, out of the cold weather. They settled in Sonoita because it reminded them of the small Colorado town where they were from: rural in nature with strong country roots.

When Glenn died in the fall of 2015 at the age of 87, the couple stumbled across his handwritten notes including a list of “wishes and hopes.” “Start a business” topped the list, the couple said.

The Copper Brothel Brewery brewing area will be outfitted with a state-of-the-art Specific Mechanical 7-Barrel System and will have an area where customers can sit and watch Samantha in action. The open floor plan also will include a full-service bar that will offer cocktails as well as regional wines, and patio seating.

“We want people to come and spend time,” Cheryl said. “We’re going to have a nice patio where people can sit out and look at the” Santa Rita, Mustang and Whetstone Mountain ranges.

The family also is planning to use the brewery as an events center to host weddings, wine tastings and private parties.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch