I just returned from an educational exploratory trip to Arizona, an area of the nation that many people don't think of as a traditional fine wine production area. I had actually booked the trip solely to avoid the first snowfall in Minnesota, and not really with much thought to wine production. Luck would present an opportunity though. On November 10th 2021 the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau classified the Verde Valley of Arizona the newest American Viticultural Area in the United States, and as I was scheduled to be in Sedona November 14th, I took a few tours. The Verde Valley A.V.A. is an 89 square mile elevated plateau south of the Colorado plateau, and north of the Sonoran desert. It rests around 3100 feet above sea level, and has a relative cool climate. I toured six wineries in the region to see what they are producing, and which grapes have the most exciting opportunities to thrive in the region.
I stayed near Sedona in the Village of Oak Creek. The town itself is a beautiful destination, and the proximity to the Verde Valley could not be more user friendly. I was able to see the Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte from my hotel, the little village has an inviting food culture, and Sedona proper is just down the road if you want to spend a little more money.
The timing of the naming of the Verde Valley A.V.A. was kismet, and I can't help thinking that it should not go unappreciated by me, so I am adding a project to my schedule. Verde Valley A.V.A. and the Lower Long Tom A.V.A., in Willamette Valley, Oregon were both named on November 10th 2021. In total the United States now has 260 American Viticultural Areas. I will travel to as many as I can, and share the information I learn, and create a comprehensive A.V.A. study guide. It may seem like a difficult task, but it really is more of a fun challenge, and a great excuse to travel. 142 of the 260 American Viticultural Areas are in California. Washington and Oregon contain nearly 40 more, so knocking these out should be a beautiful, productive way for me to stay busy, and stay on the move. There are 2 more A.V.A.'s in Arizona, so I get to return in a few weeks to Tucson and see the Willcox A.V.A. in southeast Arizona, and the Sonoita A.V.A. just south of Tucson.
You can help me with this project! Simply signing up for my free newsletter will let me know that there exists interest in this project, and will help me negotiate better pricing for regional wine events. If you want to become a member, your subscription will help fund the travel, and you will be able to see the exclusive content gathered in each A.V.A., learn about all the producers that I meet with on the road, receive discounts on all events, including custom wine classes, and be first to learn of new regional trips that you can join. You could be the designated wine taster for a region that borders your community, or that you would like to tour with WineTime on the road.