Last year Governor Ducey proclaimed March Arizona Wine Month and March 25th the Arizona Wine Growers Association hosts an outdoor festival celebrating the local wine industry. The 2nd Annual Arizona Wine Month Grand Festival and Governor’s Cup Celebration kicks off at 11 a.m. at Steele Indian School Park that is sponsored by ArizonaWines.com and Dawning Public Relations. Wineries from the state’s three wine regions Verde Valley AVA, Willcox AVA and Sonoita/Elgin AVA will be in attendance.
“With March officially being Arizona Wine Month, and the Governor’s Cup wine competition being held that month as well, we had to take this opportunity to celebrate this thriving industry, the state’s award-winning wines and the winemakers who make it all possible,” said Kris Pothier, president of the AWGA and owner of Chateau Tumbleweed.
In addition to award-winning wines food trucks and local artists will be on hand. There will be live music to entertain festival goers as well. General admission tickets are $35 online and $45 at the door. Admission includes a commemorative glass and 8 tasting tickets. VIP tickets are $45 in advance and $55 at the door with entry at 10 a.m. and extra tasting tickets. Tickets are non-refundable. Because of limited parking, ride sharing and arriving by light rail is encouraged. This is a 21+ event and only service dogs will be allowed and the festival is happening rain or shine.
To see a full list of participating wineries and to purchase tickets visit the AWGA website or Eventbrite.
Tickets are on sale for the return of the 21st Annual Camp Verde Pecan & Wine Festival in downtown Camp Verde the weekend of March 19-20th. The Verde Valley Wine Consortium and the Town of Camp Verde co-host the two day festival that will also include a beer garden, local artists and a pecan pie eating contest.
“We have learned a lot as event organizers as the pandemic has continued to take its toll and many of the COVID related changes have turned out to be more popular than ever,” said Michael Marshall, Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Manager. “We have a new style of vendor booth arrangements that is working great and the open-air wine canopy was a big hit with both vendors and attendees last spring.”
Two new experiences have been added to the festival this year including a children’s activity area and live music. Glorybound Publishing is sponsoring a Puppet Theatre & Children’s Art Exhibit and the Northern Arizona Blues Alliance (NAZBA) brings the “Northern Arizona Blues & Roots Review” to the main stage. 8 bands will entertain festival goers during the two days.
13 wineries with new Verde Valley AVA designation will be pouring their newest releases including Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Salt Mine Wine, Cove Mesa Vineyard and the Southwest Wine Center.
Entry to the festival is free and those 21 and over can purchase wine tasting tickets for $20 in advance or at the door for $25. Six wine tasting tickets and a commemorative glass are included and additional tickets can be purchased. The festival will be in downtown Camp Verde at 75 E. Holloman St. 86332 and starts at 11 a.m. both days. Safety precautions will be in place with sanitizing stations and vendors will be socially distanced. For more information visit their website.
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.