Verde Valley is wild for wine
It has been many years since we attended the Camp Verde Pecan and Wine Festival.
We do remember the entire event took place inside the main building and one or two wineries were present with non-memorable wines.
The main action at that time was with the pie bakers’ contest. People were paying top dollar for slices of those pies made with locally grown pecans.
Times have changed. This year’s event took place on all the space at the Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Area on Holliman Street.
People were out in droves celebrating spring and a re-establishment of the annual event that had to take a year off. There was something for everybody: cheese, olive oil, hand crafted furniture, nut tasting, and a pecan pie contest put on by the local Questers as a fund raiser to maintain the Hance House*
Our interest at the festival was mainly wine. There were eight wineries participating in this year’s festival: Alcantara Vineyards, Burning Tree Cellars., Carlson Creek Vineyards, Clear Creek Vineyards, HeartWood Cellars Wines, Page Springs Cellars, Salt Mine Wine and Southwest Wine Center.
Yavapai Community College and The Verde Valley Wine Consortium were large underwriters for this event. We purchase $20 tickets, good for six tastings and a souvenir wine glass from Paula Woolsey. We credit Paula with much of the growth of the wine industry in the Verde Valley, particularly wine education now located on the Yavapai College campus in Clarkdale. We boast about planting some vines in the early days of its inception.
The tasting room of the Southwest Wine Center opened in 2014. Presently, tasting is by reservation only. See www.southwestwinecenter.com.
At the festival, Suzie sampled SWC mead, made from honey sourced from hives just south of Flagstaff. Unusual, but a sweet sip. She liked it, but the finish affected other wine tasting for a while.
We are highlighting three wineries because they are either new to us or we have not been to their tasting rooms. Salt Mine Wine; Heartwood Cellars and Carlson Creek Vineyards.
We have been curious about Salt Mine Wine because we have watched and waited for the maturity of the vines planted in 2013 among the pecan groves in Camp Verde.
The owners, Chip Norton and his brother, Kevin, who is the winemaker, are delightful and so excited about their operation, bottling wine since 2018. We took notes on Primativo (Zin)and Uno, a red blend. The tasting room on their historic farm is open weekends noon to 6 p.m. Check out www.saltminewine.com
The birth of HeartWood Cellars is a wonderful Verde story. Valerie and Daniel Wood, having left successful careers and having lived in Japan and Hawaii, moved to the Verde Valley with the intent of getting into the wine business.
They found wine knowledgeable friends, graduated with honors from the Yavapai College program and now they have become boutique winery owners, producing award winning red wine.
All their wine comes from vines grown in Arizona. Some even comes from the vines they planted at the SW Wine Center. We especially enjoyed their 2017 Cabernet. To taste their wines, get on the mailing list noted at www.heartwoodcellars.com.
Carlson Creek Vineyards is a Cochise County (S. AZ) operation with tasting rooms in Cottonwood (next to Pillsbury on Main Street), Scottsdale and Willcox.
In May 2009, the entire Carlson family participated in planting the first seven acres on the then 120-acre plot of land. In full operation since 2019, the 270-acre winery is now one of the largest vineyards in the state. Because of climate and location, the winery focuses on making Rhone Style varietals. We,however, enjoyed the 2018 Cabernet.
To Your Health and Happiness, Jeff and Suzie @ The Dunnery
*Questers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study, conservation and preservation of historical object for the benefit of today and tomorrow. There are four chapter in the Verde Valley. The George Hance House was built in 1916 and is located at 229 Coppinger Street, CV, AZ. George Hance was a veteran of the American Civil War who served as Camp Verdes first postmaster. For almost 30 years, George Hance served as the unincorporated community›s unofficial Mayor. Hance was also a Justice of the Peace, notary public and cattleman. The house is now a museum and is owned by the Camp Verde Historical Society. It is in the Fort Verde District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, reference #7100012
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