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.
The Arizona wine industry continues to gain respect and popularity by showcasing wines from the unique terroir the Arizona desert has to offer. There is no better way to experience wines from a particular region or AVA (American Viticulture Area) than going right to the region to taste the wine and feel the soil which influence the way the grapes are grown and wines taste. The weekend of April 22nd & 23rd is the weekend that wine drinkers will gather in Elgin to celebrate the 6th Annual Southeast Arizona Wine Growers Festival at Kief-Joshua Vineyards.
The 2 day event will be a great opportunity for festival goers to not only taste the wines from the region but to also learn about what makes Southeast Arizona wines unique from other regions of Arizona, U.S.A and the world. The opportunity to spend the weekend in Arizona wine country among the vineyards and with wine growers and wine makers can make for a lifetime of memories.
Over 15 acclaimed wineries will be pouring new releases including Burning Tree, Pillsbury Wine Co., Callaghan Vineyards and Arizona Stronghold as the AVA celebrates its 33rd anniversary as Arizona’s first and only AVA and one of the 1st wine regions in the country to be given AVA status.
The exciting Southeast Arizona (AVA) was named one of the 10 Best Wine Trails in the United States by USA Today.
“We are once again bringing together wine makers from all across Arizona. This year we want to celebrate that on October 26, 1984 the Sonoita/Elgin Wine Growing Region was granted AVA status, making it one of oldest federal government granted viticulture areas in the United States.” – Kief Manning, Winemaker, Kief-Joshua Vineyards
When you’re not sipping on wine or speaking with wine makers, festival goers will be able to taste food from food vendors while listening to live music. The Chili Appreciation Society (CASI) will also be holding a regional two-day professional cook off with attendees casting their vote in the People’s Choice Competition with proceeds to benefit Rotary International.