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Wine’s success intoxicates valley
Written by Jeff Wood   
Monday, 02 April 2012 00:00

As the Verde Valley grows under the influence of local wineries, is there any aspect of life in the area they won’t touch?

Nikki Check, the director of viticulture and enology at Yavapai College, shows a student’s grape vine grafting project Thursday, March 22. New grape varieties, expanded facilities and a larger vineyard are all changes in store for Verde Valley wine students.The wineries have become major employers, sparked the revitalization Old Town Cottonwood, and now, with fundraising under way for the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College’s Clarkdale campus, they are about to contribute to higher education.

The results could be called intoxicating, considering there wasn’t much of a wine industry to speak of before 2006.

For Tom Pitts, founding president and chairman of the board of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium, the Southwest Wine Center will be fertile ground for future growth of the young industry — one that will only get better with age.

“The Southwest Wine Center will be the absolute cornerstone of where we can go from here,” Pitts said. “I see this area taking its place as one of the fine wine producing areas of the world. Period.”

Arizona might not seem like a traditional grape region, but it wasn’t always that way.

“[Arizona] used to grow massive amounts of grapes prior to Prohibition. There were more grapes grown in Arizona and New Mexico than in California, and then, after Prohibition, everyone forgot about it,” he said. “The Verde Valley has more plantable acreage than the Napa Valley.”

For the full story, see the Wednesday, March 28, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.


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