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 the Arizona wine industry continues to gain popularity and international respect those making the wine, the winemaker have two ways to learn how to make wine. One way is by hands on trial and error and learning along the way. The other is to learn from a school of wine-making then apply what you’ve learned in the vineyard and winery. Yavapai College is one of those that teach you how to make wine here in Arizona. The school has announced a one-day “Emerging Winemakers Competition & Symposium” on Saturday April 24th.
The virtual and free event will offer 2 seminars, 3 speakers, 7 judges and 1 Best in show winner from 9:30 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. The seminar & symposium is being organized by the Grand Crew, a student & alumni organization at the Yavapai College of Viticulture Enology at the Verde Valley campus in Clarkdale.
“After canceling last year’s event due to COVID-19 safety precautions, we are excited to return this year as a virtual event for wine lovers throughout the state,” said the Competition Organizer Bill Anderson. “As one of our state’s fastest growing industries we created this event as a platform for those new to the industry to be recognized for their efforts in helping it flourish,”
The schedule of events is as follow
9:30-10:15 a.m. PDT
Welcome + Introductions:
Bill Anderson + Michael Pierce
Keynote Speaker: Jennifer Montgomery
Topic: Different Beginnings, Same Destination
10:30 – 11:15 a.m.– Seminar 1
California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance
Topic: Sustainability from Grapes to Glass
11:30am – 12:15 p.m.– Seminar 2 Philippe Corderey:
Introduction to Biodynamic Viticulture
Bookings are now being taken for Spirit of Arizona Tours new experiences to old town Scottsdale and to the Verde Valley.
The Verde Valley Winery Tour includes spending the day visiting 3 wineries between Jerome and Sedona, visit Cottonwood for shopping, lunch and more wine tasting and an interpretive tour of of the Sonoran desert and the Verde Valley. Tours leave the Phoenix area at 8:30 a.m. and return between 6 – 7 p.m. Cost is $129 per person.
The Scottsdale Wine Tasting Experience visits up to 4 tasting rooms, checking out Scottsdale landmarks & points of interest and time to do a little shopping. Drop off and pick up is available when per-arranged. The tours are 3 hours long and are multiple times a day for $60 per person.
Wine tastings are not included in price as individuals can determine what and how much they want to drink. To book these or any other Spirit of Arizona Tours visit their website.
Downtown Camp Verde is getting ready for people of all ages for the 20th annual Camp Verde Pecan & Wine Festival co-hosted by the Verde Valley Wine Consortium and the town on Saturday and Sunday March 21st & 22nd. The festival draws people from around Arizona that will feature 15 local wineries along with a variety of pecans. Festival goers can enter a Pecan pie eating contest, enjoy a cold beer in the beer garden, dance to live music, visit local artists and purchase food from local food trucks. It’s one of the festivals coming up that feature Arizona wines.
“What started as a great way to celebrate two local products of the region has turned into an annual tradition that now draws thousands of attendees to our town,” said Michael Marshall, Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Manager. “We now have more wineries than ever, our famous Pecan Pie contest, live music throughout each day and more food and craft vendors – which means we are also expecting our biggest crowds in the festival’s 20-year history.”
A few of the wineries pouring wine include Burning Tree Cellars, Carlson Creek Vineyards and Page Spring Cellars. The festival is FREE for all ages to attend but those looking to taste wine need to purchase tickets. Early bird tickets are $20 on-line and $25 at the door. Included are a commemorative glass and 6 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets can be purchased.
Saturday the festival goes from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 75 E. Hollamon St. Camp Verde 86322. For more information visit their website.
There’s no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with a glass of wine or two with dear old mom. You can purchase tickets for you and your mom for the 5th annual Verde Valley Wine Festival, Saturday May 9th 2020. Four Eight Wineworks presents the festival that will host 20 Arizona wineries along with local breweries, distilleries, food trucks and restaurants. The festival takes place at Clarkdale Town Park from 12 – 5 p.m. Each year the festival donates part of the proceeds to a local non-profit, this year’s festival benefits The Arizona Vignerons Alliance and the Arizona Winegrowers Association. Participating wineries, food trucks and other vendors is will be announced soon.
“Wine’s economic impact on our state demands more resources to defend, protect and grow this incredibly delicate, yet robust industry in Arizona,” said David Baird, festival director and co-owner of oDDity Wine Collective. “Guests fly in from all over the world to attend this festival. For many people, the first time they understand the depth of Arizona wine is at our festival. We’re honored to be a conduit for that magic.”
General Admission tickets for the Verde Valley Wine Festival are available on-line for $35 in advance and $45 at the festival. VIP tickets are $125 and get you early entry at 11 a.m., access to the VIP Lounge, additional tastings and a swag bag. Platinum VIP tickets are $199 and include dinner and live auction on Friday May 8th. Festival goers are encouraged to spend the night and accommodations for glamping are available on the website.
Clarkdale Town Park is at 1001 Main St. Clarkdale.