The Willcox Wine Country Spring Festival is expanding its footprint in downtown Willcox beyond historic Railroad Park.

With cooperation from the city of Willcox, ADOT and Cochise County, Maley Street, a main downtown thoroughfare, will be closed for the festival. That will open up the festival space to encompass more downtown businesses in and around the historic park, 157 N. Railroad Ave.

That should be plenty of space for the more than 60 artisans, craftsmen and specialty vendors expected. There also are a handful of food trucks and the Willcox Street Bistro offering food, and 18 regional wineries pouring their latest vintages. Expected to be on hand: Aridus Wine Co., Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Birds and Barrel Vineyards, Bodega Pierce/Saeculum Cellars, Caduceus Cellars, Carlson Creek Vineyard, Chateau Tumbleweed, Copper Horse Vineyard, Deep Sky Vineyard, Coronado Vineyards, Golden Rule Vineyards, Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Kief-Joshua Vineyards, Page Springs Cellars, Rune Wines, Pillsbury Wine Co., SW Wine Center and Zarpara Vineyard.

The festival is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19. Tickets each day are $20 for six tastings and a commemorative glass, or $25 for 10 tastings, at the door or online at eventbrite.com

The festival opens Friday, May 17, with a special awards dinner that will recognize Willcox Wine Country pioneers Bob Webb and Mike Kilby. The dinner, which costs $60 a person, begins at 6 p.m. at the Willcox Community Center, 312 W. Stewart St.

The festival is presented by the Cochise Graham Wine Council — formerly the Willcox Wine Country Partnership — a consortium of Arizona farm wineries in the Willcox area, and Cochise and Graham counties, including Elgin and Sonoita.

The Willcox area leads in statewide grape production, with nearly two-thirds of the wine grapes grown in Arizona coming from the Willcox area.

The region also is recognized for the quality of grapes coming off its vines. The wine produced in the region has snagged national awards including from Wine Spectator, which over the past decade has rated 45 Arizona wines at an 88 to 90 score out of 100.

Willcox in 2016 was designated American Viticultural Area, a federal recognition certifying the area as a unique and distinctive wine-growing region in the United States.

It is one of only two such regions in the state; the other is Sonoita, which was designated an AVA in 1984.

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

Cathalena has covered music for the Star for the past 20 years. She's a graduate of Arizona State University has worked at Sedona Red Rock News, Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, New York; and USA Today.