Yavapai College is set to begin construction of the Teaching Winery at the Southwest Wine Center, which will be the premier academic center supporting wine growers throughout the Southwest U.S. The SWC will serve as a hub of education, research and rural economic development activity. The Southwest Wine Center will be the knowledge gateway and data repository that will make new information, as well as historical data, about Arizona land, soil, water use, plant varietals and arid region best practices accessible to the public. Information will be shared with students, wine growers and the interested public through accredited coursework, growers’ symposiums and public presentations.
Yavapai College, which so far has planted 6 acres in its 17-acre vineyard, offers a 2-year degree program leading to an AAS in Viticulture and Enology, plus a Viticulture certificate that prepares individuals for various careers in the grape-growing industry.
The Teaching Winery will contain four main spaces, one in each former handball court: a fermentation room, two barrel-aging rooms and a tasting room where students will gain real-world experience in marketing and selling YC produced wine. The winery will have production areas and barrel and case storage sufficient to support the commercial production of 3,000 cases of wine per year.
Designed by Architect Joe Chauncey of the Boxwood firm, the Teaching Winery will be a model of green construction. As noted in an article posted on the AZ Wine Lifestyle web site, “A new roof to cover the building and provide shade for outdoor work areas will collect enough water to make the winery net zero for water usage. The design allows enough natural light into the working areas to operate during daylight hours without the need for artificial lighting, and a planned photovoltaic array could make the winery net zero for electricity. The overall design of the winery itself becomes a teaching model for sustainability for the wine industry.”
Construction of the Teaching Winery is scheduled to begin in November 2013 and be completed by the fall of 2014. The project is being funded by a combination of ongoing private donations, partnerships and College funding. The Yavapai College Foundation is continuing to raise funds for the project. Those interested in contributing to the fulfillment of the SWC vision should contact Paul Kirchgraber (928-717-7773) or Linda Buchanan (928-634-6530).
Lana Tolleson, president and CEO of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, told the Cronkite News Service earlier this year that the wine industry is a boon to the area economy, as is Yavapai College’s winemaking program.
“During a time when the rest of the economy was slowing, and even in decline, the wine industry doubled and even tripled every year,” Tolleson said. “Having an educational opportunity be able to flourish during that amount of time has been good for our economy.”
There are 29 wineries in the Verde Valley alone. The wine industry in the Verde Valley hits on all three points of sustainability: Economically Viable, Socially Responsible, and Environmentally Sound. Wine regions across the world have proved that they can attribute to the sustainability of their communities. Economically, vineyards provide jobs, income from the selling of their wine, they create employment opportunity, preserve the region’s agricultural heritage, and the wineries bring tourism into the region.
The wine industry is an environmentally friendly industry. Grapes are an ecologically sound crop using 1/10th of the water per acre that cotton or other row crops consume. Grape vines also use land that might otherwise be economically unusable and the vineyards are an aesthetically pleasing enhancement to the landscape.
When: Tuesday, November 19, 11 a.m.
Where: Yavapai College’s Verde Valley Campus, 601 Black Hills Drive in Clarkdale
Who: YC President Dr. Penny Wills will be joined by Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig, Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens, Arizona Wine Growers Association President Peggy Fiandaca and Verde Valley Wine Consortium President Tom Schumacher to break ground for the Teaching Winery at the Southwest Wine Center.
Why: The Teaching Winery is part of the Southwest Wine Center, which will serve as a hub of education, research and rural economic development activity designed to support the Southwest’s growing viticulture industry in achieving its potential as a significant U.S. wine-producing region. Construction will convert an underutilized racquetball building into a state-of-the-art, full-production teaching winery capable of turning out 3,000 cases of wine each year. The on-campus winery will be a teaching lab where students will learn the concepts of producing wine via hands-on experience.
Photo: Yavapai College