More than four years after the initial petition was submitted, today the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) named the Verde Valley an American Viticultural Area (AVA). This esteemed designation identifies the unique geography, topography, soils, and climate of the Verde Valley AVA as a federally recognized grape growing region.
Alongside Arizona’s first two AVAs, Sonoita and Willcox, designating the Verde Valley AVA gives vintners the opportunity to describe the specific origin of the grapes used to make their wines to consumers.
“I am ecstatic with this TTB announcement,” said Tom Schumacher, president of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium. “The Verde Valley AVA petition was submitted to the TTB by the Verde Valley Wine Consortium in 2017. This shows that our arduous efforts to submit the petition have been fruitful.”
Located in the geographic center of Arizona, the Verde Valley AVA defines an area of 219 square miles in the northeastern Yavapai County centered on the junction of Oak Creek and the Verde River. Approximately 79 square miles (36%) of the AVA is privately owned land. Federal and State entities manage the remainder.
According to the Verde Valley Wine Trail, the Verde Valley AVA includes 19 commercial vineyards farming more than 136 acres of wine grapes. Twenty-four additional vineyard acres are planned within the next three years. The region boasts 25 tasting rooms.
Also located within the Verde Valley AVA is Yavapai College, an accredited educational institution that offers classes, certificates and an associate degree in viticulture and enology. Yavapai College features a commercial, licensed and bonded teaching winery, a teaching vineyard, and a tasting room, collectively known as the Southwest Wine Center. Enrollment in the viticulture and enology programs have risen steadily since its inception in 2009. Many of the school’s alumni are now working in the Verde Valley wine industry.
Vineyards in the Verde Valley AVA grow more than 40 wine grape varieties to produce wine, including the white grape varieties Malvasia Bianca, Viognier, Chardonnay, Vermentino, Seyval Blanc and Picpoul Blanc. Red grape varieties in the Verde Valley AVA include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Tannat and Barbera.
The logo for the Verde Valley AVA, designed by Luke Bernard of Burnhardt Works, displays the open Arizona sky, the sun above the Mogollon Rim, Sedona Redrocks and Black Hills Foothills, along with a nod to the state flag and a V that not only represents the literal shape of the Valley but also the name Verde Valley.
For more information about the Verde Valley AVA, visit VerdeValleyAVA.org.