Mon, Jan

Wine fest aging well


After attending the second annual Verde Valley Wine Festival, it would be difficult to deny the truth: The Verde Valley’s wine industry is growing, pulling an ever greater number of oenophiles into the region.

The event took place May 13 and 14 at Clarkdale Town Park. According to festival coordinator Shelby Scheer, attendance topped out at approximately 2,000, with nearly 1,400 attending on Saturday. Last year’s festival, which took place over a single Saturday, attracted 1,100 people. Advance tickets indicated a healthy response to the event, but day-of sales were strong. Nearly a third of Saturday’s festival goers and just over half of Sunday’s bought tickets at the door.

“Saturday was the outof-town-tourist day with a large portion of attendees coming from Phoenix and Tucson,” Scheer said. “We saw an increase in ZIP codes from pre-sale tickets from Western states — California, Nevada, Oregon and New Mexico — and even back East.

“Having the event branded to Mother’s Day weekend was a draw, in that attendees specifically purchased tickets as gifts for their moms or wives .... We saw an increase in large groups of people coming to the festival together to celebrate Mother’s Day.”

Scheer credited the success of the festival’s second year to “continued collaboration between Verde Valley businesses and local governments to create a regional signature event” under the guidance of Clarkdale’s Four Eight Wineworks, which served as both event sponsor and co-organizer.

According to the festival’s director, Four Eight Wineworks’ David Baird, the event served to showcase how far the wine industry has come in the Verde Valley.

“It’s a great way to show the rest of the state how ripe the Verde Valley is for events [and] as a retreat for other surrounding areas in the state,” Baird said. “This event showed what the Verde Valley has to offer as a venue for the Arizona wine industry as a whole.”

Scheer noted that this year’s festival featured an ecological aspect, with assistance from the town of Clarkdale and Local First Arizona.

The former provided free reusable water bottles to attendees, reducing the waste generated by disposable water bottles. The latter helped recycle 60 cases of wine bottles — about 1,150 pounds — and 200 pounds of cardboard.

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