Originally Published: March 8, 2023 12:10 a.m.
©Verde Valley Independent
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Paula Woolsey was elected unanimously as the new president of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium.
The VVWC is a wine producers’ trade organization that promotes the wine community in the Verde Valley. Members are wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms.
Tom Schumacher has resigned after 10 years as president and a director on the board, VVWC announced. Schumacher becomes immediate past president, which will be for one year to offer a seamless transition to the new president.
“Paula will continue as our leader in all festivals, events, marketing/advertising and numerous behind-the-scenes activities,” according to a news release.
Woolsey said she had been vice president for about 10 years before her recent promotion to president. There’s been a lot of changes on the board in the past couple of months.
The VVWC has been promoting the area for 14 years, she said. There were a few vineyards growing in the Verde Valley in the 1990s.
The first classes at Yavapai College were in 2009 and the first vineyards there went in there in 2010. The consortium started two years before that.
In 2006, there were 12 wineries listed in the entire state, she said. But in 2006 laws were passed that allowed tasting rooms and direct-to-consumer sales.
“It’s been a huge battle for 20 years,” she said.
Now there are 30 tasting rooms and wineries on the VVWC Verde Valley wine trail.
Woolsey is also working on a Wine Trail license plate through the Arizona Department of Transportation to create a revenue stream.
“You have to get the governor to sign off on it,” she said. The income would go to its nonprofit.
The group is also working on signage to promote the fact that the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau established Verde Valley as an American Viticulture Area (AVA).
The consortium is getting ready to do the wine tasting at the Pecan & Wine Festival on March 18 in Camp Verde.
The consortium also puts on the Emerging Wine Makers Competition at Yavapai College on April 15 for winemakers making but not selling wine.
They also organize Walking on Main in Cottonwood, the Sedona Wine Festival, the Verde Valley Wine Festival in Cottonwood with Maynard Keenan, and the Vintage Run in Cottonwood.
Woolsey said the group is involved in wine education on lots of different levels.
People want more fun out of their wine experience. They want a wine tour or a tasting room with food and wine pairings or classes. “More depth than people realized to this idea of a wine region.”
“It’s definitely growing,” she said. “We are a destination.”
— Vyto Starinskas at firstname.lastname@example.org