The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) has awarded a Rural Economic Development Grant in the amount of $208,500 to the Verde Valley Wine Consortium, Inc. (VVWC), for business expansion at six Verde Valley wineries. They are: Arizona Stronghold Vineyards; Freitas Vineyard; Page Springs Vineyards; Alcantara Vineyards and Winery; Caduceus Cellars; and, Javelina Leap Vineyards and Winery. The grant application was prepared and presented by Tom Pitts, President, VVWC. The award was announced at the ACA's Annual Board of Directors Meeting in Phoenix last month. Pictured from left to right: Lori Perkins, Business Manager, Caduceus Cellars/Merkin Vineyards; Lisa Rhodes, Business Manager, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards; Barbara Predmore, Owner, Alcantara Vineyards; Jerry Colangelo, Co-Chair (with the Governor) of the ACA; Jan Brewer, Governor, Arizona; Tom Pitts, President, Verde Valley Wine Consortium; Rod Snapp, Owner Javelina Leap Vineyards and Winery; Eric Glomski, Owner, Page Springs Vineyards; and, Sandra Watson, CEO, ACA. Not pictured, Ray Freitas, Owner, Freitas Vineyard. (Photo: Courtesy, ACA.) This is the second year in a row that the ACA has awarded a rural economic development grant to the VVWC. Last year, the ACA awarded $124,000 to the Consortium for expansion at four area wineries. Mr. Pitts also prepared that grant application. The wineries have pledged to spend over $1 million on capital improvements at their Verde Valley properties this year and increase their payroll over $900,000, creating a minimum of 41 new jobs in the Verde Valley this year.