|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Thursday, 24 February 2011 00:00|
Many believe the Verde Valley’s growing wine industry boosts the local economy, but not until a University of Arizona economist studied the issue was its impact fully understood.
In 2009, the industry added nearly $4 million to the Verde Valley economy in terms of sales tax revenue and wages paid to local workers, according to Erik Glenn, University of Arizona assistant agent for community resource development.
Glenn announced the figures while summarizing the conclusions of his report at Cottonwood City Council’s regular meeting Feb. 15.
The full report is nearly finished and will be presented to the Verde Valley Wine Consortium soon. The consortium will decide whether and when to release it to the public, Glenn said.
More than 50,000 gallons, or 21,000 cases, of wine was produced in the Verde Valley in 2009. Production for 2010 is expected to show a 25 percent increase, according to a study prepared by Glenn for the Verde Valley Wine Consortium.
“The wine industry contributes a great deal. It has a huge impact,” he said. “It creates commodities to be sold and resold, creates experience other service providers can use, spends money with private business and employs people, almost all of who live in the area and spend their paychecks here.”
There are currently 13 federally licensed wineries in the Verde Valley that use grapes grown at 14 local vineyards. Including 10 local businesses that sell Arizona wine. The industry employs 124 residents on a full or part-time basis, Glenn said.
These dollars, together with those spent by wholesalers, retailers, tourists, restaurants and grocery stores, mean an estimated $31 million changes hands in the local economy thanks to the wine industry, Glenn reported.
“There are also noneconomic benefits,” Glenn said. “Wine producers preserve open space and preserve the agricultural heritage of the Verde Valley. They contribute to the community’s positive image.”
Even through the current recession, winemakers have been expanding their operations, he said.
“There are challenges ahead but many opportunities. The future looks bright if we all do our part to support winemaking in the Verde Valley,” Glenn said.
“Wine is also a heart-healthy drink,” Councilman Terence Pratt said. “[Economic Development Director] Casey Rooney should be commended. He’s helped Cottonwood a lot through his work with the consortium.”
Pratt said a constituent told him on Feb. 12 there was a line of people waiting to get into a wine-tasting room in Old Town that extended out onto the sidewalk.
“It brings people in from out of town, wine aficionados from all over the country. It’s created a sense of place,” Pratt said.
“The study does show it is a great economic engine for Cottonwood and the Verde Valley,” Mayor Diane Joens said.
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