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Winefest success a milestone in future of industry in area
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Thursday, 30 September 2010 13:23

Visionaries in the Verde Valley think it is possible to diversify our local economy.

Rather than rely solely on tourism to bring jobs and tax dollars into our communities, they are looking for an industry capable of supporting itself while also possibly attracting visitors to the area.

These entrepreneurs are turning to the vine to create new business and jobs.

Several vineyards now operate in the Verde Valley and off-site tasting rooms are popping up in the communities.

Some, including the Verde Valley Wine Consortium, think wine is the future of the Verde Valley’s economy. The consortium formed to support the development and expansion of the wine industry in Northern Arizona.

The wine bug has also bitten the education community with Yavapai College introducing a viticulture program where students learn the process from vine to bottle, along with developing an image and essential marketing tools.

This fall the college offered three courses in winemaking including introduction to viticulture and classes on United States wines and wines from around the world.

A vineyard was constructed at the Verde Valley campus in Clarkdale where students will receive hands-on experience and someday produce bottles of wine.

Once the wine industry is established and self-sustaining, the hope is it will actually supplement tourism by drawing visitors to Northern Arizona’s wine country, and this already seems to be happening.

Sedona Winefest, which took place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and Sept. 26, marked an important milestone in the quest to put our area on the map as a wine destination.

Vineyards from around Arizona participated in the festival and the crowd quite possibly was the largest I’ve seen at an event in Sedona since I moved to the Verde Valley four years ago. On the first day of the festival organizers had already handed out over 700 of the 1,000 commemorative wine glasses sold with tasting tickets.

Relying on tourism alone to support our economy has proved difficult during the recession. Now, it’s time to diversify and build a stronger economy capable of absorbing some of the shock when the financial market gets shaky.

Cheers to a fruitful future for the Verde Valley.


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