Last Friday the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) named the Verde Valley an American Viticultural Area (AVA). It’s been 4 years since the region petitioned for the esteemed designation as a federally recognized grape growing region. The unique climate, soils, topography and geography are what makes the area unique and warranting the designation.
The Verde Valley becomes Arizona’s third AVA joining Sonoita and Willcox and wineries can use the new designation on the label when using grapes from the AVA. “I am ecstatic with this TTB announcement,” said Tom Schumacher, president of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium. “The Verde Valley AVA petition was submitted to the TTB by the Verde Valley Wine Consortium in 2017. This shows that our arduous efforts to submit the petition have been fruitful.”
Verde Valley vineyards
Located in the geographic center of Arizona the new AVA is 219 square miles in northeastern Yavapai County centered near Oak Creek and the Verde River. 36% of the AVA or 79 square miles is privately owned land and includes 19 vineyards covering more than 136 acres planted to grape vines. The region also is home to 25 wine tasting rooms. Over 40 grapes varieties are grown in the area that can be made into wine including white grapes Malvasia Bianca, Chardonnay and Viognier. Syrah, Petit Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon are just a few of the red grapes grown in the AVA.
Yavapai College is also in the AVA and offers offers classes, certificates and an associate degree in viticulture and enology. The Southwestern Wine Center as it’s known has a commercial, licensed and bonded winery, a teaching vineyard and tasting room. Started in 2009 the school has continually grown in class size and curriculum with many of the graduates staying in Arizona to make wine. For more information about the region visit their website.
As I have chosen a career in the wine industry I’ve been on both sides of the equation, buying & selling. Buying for retailers and selling both wholesale & retail, I’ve come across many narrowed minded people.. retailers, restaurateurs and consumers who choose not embrace the ever evolving world of wine. Even after 18 years in the industry I am always learning about new varietals, wine regions, etc. that become available. I only wish more people would not take wine so seriously to the point where they won’t try something new and tend to play it safe w/ predictable purchases. I understand that there is only so much shelve space in a retail shop or so much room on a restaurant’s wine list, but to hear some of the excuses is somewhat sad. Most of the excuses come from people who started a career doing something else & liked wine or cashed in some stock options and opened a wine bar/retailer. It’s usually these people who feel that actually “selling” wine becomes a burden. Some will say “I don’t have demand for …”, so do you create the demand using passion & enthusiasm, not to mention there are many opportunities nowadays to taste consumers. I look at like which comes first, the chicken or the egg.
Wine is meant to be fun and enjoyable and part of the fun is being open to new varietals such as Malvasia, Tannat, Gamay, etc. Having spoken to other wine industry people and even tasted wine w/ them we’ve wondered why more people don’t embrace lesser known varietals. After all grapes are grapes like apples are apples with similar textures but different uses and taste profiles and their is not something so off the charts in there taste. The best advice I can give to people about wine is to keep an opened mind. Another post I did which may be the precursor to this one. http://pullingcorksandforks.blogspot.com/2010/07/youre-not-into-wine-if.html