Verde Valley Wine



August 7, 2020

sustainable-wineries6Verde Valley wines are a $56 million annual business, and like a good vintage, that may take you a bit by surprise.

The Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College in Clarkdale and the Verde Valley Wine Consortium work to spread the word about Verde Valley wines – through the grapevine, as it were. Now, the Valley is poised for national recognition as one of the nation’s best wine regions in the USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Top 10 Awards. Your votes can help push the area over the top.

Other wine regions are starting to pick up the voting pace as the August 10 deadline nears. The rules allow you to weigh in once a day, so please vote often!  Go to and vote for the Verde Valley. Winners are announced August 21.

The Valley is on the verge of another achievement, this one 6 years in the making: government recognition as an American Viticultural Area (AVA), a term reserved for highly distinctive winegrowing regions such as Napa Valley.

It means winemakers meeting AVA criteria can label themselves Verde Valley wines, signifying that the unique taste produced by the soils, grape growers and vintners of the region lies within every bottle. The designation is critical because “consumers often seek out wines from specific AVAs,” said Tom Schumacher of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium. With an AVA designtaion, Verde Valley wines will stand out in the marketplace and command higher prices as they build loyal customers, he added.

“Definitely a reason to cheer for the grape growers and wine makers,” Schumacher said.

What is the secret behind the momentum? Much credit goes to the expertise of local winemakers in improving their art to reflect the Valley’s unique conditions. The Southwest Wine Center, an industry-scale model of a working farm/winery with a 13-acre sustainable vineyard, helps by contributing highly trained homegrown vintners and viticulturists each year. Today, SWC grads operate about a quarter of the areas two dozen vineyards.

The AVA designation will also build buzz – excellent news for the ‘dispersal’ concept of sustainable tourism. Dispersal means spreading visitors around to ease pressure on popular spots and balance economic impact. A local AVA could easily entice Sedona travelers to try a completely different  experience just a stone’s throw away: the libations and hospitality of the popular Verde Valley Wine Trail. The Valley’s charm could quickly generate more overnight stays and spawn new attractions, making the ‘dispersal’ concept a reality.

Sustainability isn’t just a wine country byproduct. It is built into Verde Valley vineyards, many of which are certified by the Sustainability Alliance.

At Clear Creek Winery, a crop of vetch and peas reduce erosion and add nitrogen. Chickens eat insects, domestic geese chew up weeds and two Great Pyrenees dogs keep wolves and raccoons at bay.

Page Springs Cellars vineyards are no-till, meaning they don’t disturb the soil, which can release carbon. Solar panels produce 75-85 percent of electricity with more on the way. Wastewater runs through biological filters and settling tanks to an artificial wetland, supporting local flora.

Check out other inspiring examples at Sustainability Alliance

Sedona has shown unity of purpose during these difficult times. Let’s continue working together to rebuild an economy that is interconnected and sustainable. Reaching out to boost (and vote for) our Verde Valley neighbors is an excellent way everyone can contribute.

                                                              –Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO