Cooler Weather Holidays



November 26, 2021

local-business-banner-1000x250-with-shop-localIt’s here! The holiday season has officially arrived with Thanksgiving, tryptophan, football and now, leftovers and Shop Local Saturday. This is my first Thanksgiving in Sedona, and I love how the cooler weather, dramatic shadows and crisp morning air add a tang to one of my favorite holidays. We’re blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Every day, I feel our mutual responsibility to care for greater Sedona and sustain Red Rock Country so future generations will savor their own holidays with friends, family, and nature.

This time of year is also a good time to reflect on and be thankful for the progress we are making together. We spend so much energy facing our challenges and debating the best way forward, it is easy for us to miss what many outside Sedona already see – a community moving ahead on our sustainability mission and getting the word out that we expect our visitors to ‘get with the program,’ as they say.

The chamber’s latest endeavor is a deeper partnership with Leave No Trace, the global environmental education and outreach agency. The agreement includes co-branding that will make Leave No Trace highly visible around town and to our visitors. In addition, our 725-plus chamber partners can use official Leave No Trace materials promoting their famous “7 Principles,” easily-understood practices that help people minimize their environmental impact on the outdoors. The partnership will help visitors see that we expect recreate responsible while giving them the information they need to practice responsible behavior.

I am absolutely thrilled for our friends in the Verde Valley, where winemakers just achieved official government recognition as an American Viticulture Area, a term reserved for highly distinctive wine-growing regions such as the Napa Valley. The designation was six years in the making as evaluators considered the unique qualities of the wines produced by the Valleys’ vintners, growing techniques and soils.  The designation raises the Verde Valley profile among aficionados, as “consumers often seek out wines from specific AVAs,” according to Tom Schumacher of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium. Our local wines will be more prominent in the marketplace, command higher prices and attract new customers, he added. It’s a double dose of good news for local wines. Just this summer, the Verde Valley was named a Top Ten Winemaking Region in the USA Today Readers’ Choice poll.

AVA status can boost the ‘dispersal’ strategy of sustainable tourism – spreading visitors throughout the region to ease the pressure on popular locations in Sedona and distributing tourism’s economic benefits. An official AVA in the area could easily entice Sedona travelers to try a different vacation experience just a stone’s throw away and boost the popularity of the Verde Valley Wine Trail. The charm of the Valley’s wine industry has enormous potential to generate more overnight stays, elevate Verde Valley tourism and continue to “spread the love” of our area.

The Leave No Trace partnership and exciting news from the Verde Valley are just two examples from the past few weeks of how Sedona is balancing our thriving economy and outstanding visitor experience and with environmental stewardship and resident quality of life, as called for by the Sustainable Tourism Plan. The chamber is also convening stakeholders on short-term rentals, OHVs, Fly Friendly skies and housing affordability. It’s exciting to see partners such as the City of Sedona, Yavapai County, the US Forest Service, the Sedona Lodging Council, many of our nonprofits and others working together so closely. Our challenges are complex, but I am delighted so many key players are coming together to champion solutions, and I look forward to continuing our progress in the new year.

-Candace Carr Strauss,