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Arizona’s Verde Valley wines achieve coveted ‘American Viticultural Area’ status

Wine buffs take note.

After six years of study, The US Treasury Department has named Arizona’s Verde Valley an American Viticultural Area (AVA).

It elevates the Valley’s $56 million wine industry into the same status as Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and other well-known wine-producing regions.

According to the Treasury Department’s Tax and Trade Bureau, an AVA is a grape-growing region with geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from surrounding areas and affect how grapes are grown.

Labelling local wines with the Verde Valley AVA designation signifies a unique taste produced by the soils, grape growers and vintners of the region lies in every bottle.

Tom Schumacher of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium says AVA status is critical because ‘consumers often seek out wines from specific AVAs.’

He added that Verde Valley wines will stand out in the marketplace and attract aficionados.

“Definitely a reason to cheer for Verde Valley grape growers and winemakers,” Schumacher said.

It is also a sustainable industry.

The Southwest Wine Center, an industry-scale model of a working farm/winery with a 13-acre sustainable vineyard at Yavapai College in Clarkdale, contributes highly trained homegrown vintners and viticulturists.

SWC graduates operate about a quarter of the area’s two dozen vineyards.

“The AVA designation is also excellent news for the ‘dispersal’ concept of sustainable tourism,” said Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau President and CEO Candace Carr Strauss.

“The Verde Valley AVA can easily entice travellers to Sedona to try a completely different experience just a stone’s throw away,” she added.

“The libations and hospitality of the popular Verde Valley Wine Trail and the Valley’s fertile landscape along Oak Creek and the Verde River can generate more overnight stays and spawn new attractions.”

 Verde Valley wine country also contributes to Sedona’s growing reputation for sustainability, with many wineries certified by the Arizona Sustainability Alliance. 

AVA status is the second time in recent months Verde Valley wines have been in the national spotlight.

The US Treasury Department says there are 260 established AVAs in the United States. Arizona has three and the Verde Valley is the only one in the north-central region.

The Verde Valley AVA designation goes into effect December 10, 2021.

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