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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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7/13/2014 10:47:00 AM
Young African leaders tour Arizona wine country
Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens talks with Franck Nguimbi-Mbenze and the other ASU Washington Fellows at the Up The Creek Restaurant in Page Springs Saturday. VVN/Vyto Starinskas
Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens talks with Franck Nguimbi-Mbenze and the other ASU Washington Fellows at the Up The Creek Restaurant in Page Springs Saturday. VVN/Vyto Starinskas
Tinotenda Pasi of Zimbabwe takes a photo with her mobile phone during a meeting with other ASU Washington Fellows at the Up The Creek Restaurant in Page Springs Saturday. VVN/Vyto Starinskas
Tinotenda Pasi of Zimbabwe takes a photo with her mobile phone during a meeting with other ASU Washington Fellows at the Up The Creek Restaurant in Page Springs Saturday. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter


The Verde Valley's growing wine industry became an example Saturday of how a vineyard can become an economic driver.

Arizona State University has been hosting a 25-person Young African Leaders Institute cohort this summer, bringing them in contact with as many areas of Arizona government as possible.

Parts of Africa are also embracing the wine industry, said Casey Rooney, economic development director for the city of Cottonwood.

"What I want them to leave with is a perspective on not just the wine industry, but how we've worked to brand our community," Rooney said. "In seven or eight years, we turned a beat-up old downtown into a thriving destination."

ASU's Dana Newell, assistant dean of academic affairs and the YALI group's academic director, planned to take the group from lunch in Page Springs at Up the Creek, to tasting rooms nearby as well as in Old Town Cottonwood and Clarkdale.

In year's past, Rooney said, Cottonwood did miss the boat on tourism, but has been making a conscious effort to change that.

"The wine industry helped facilitate that change," he said.

Mayor Diane Joens also attended, along with other community leaders.



Follow the reporter on Twitter @ymgonzal and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Article comment by: success of old town Cottonwood

I would urge you to go in to the wine tasting rooms in Old Town and talk to the owners about how business is doing. People come to Old Town for dinner in the evening, or for lunch. The wine is just a little perk. A nice perk, but it is not the reason for Old Town's success. I saw it happening when Nic's, The Tavern, Crema Café and the others, went in, then business in Old Town started thriving. For Cottonwood to tout that it is anywhere near the heart of wine country is hopeful thinking. Thank you, though, to the owners of the wineries for still being there.

Posted: Monday, July 14, 2014
Article comment by: @ where are all the grapes .

Well obviously they are all in your mouth and they must be very sour grapes indeed.

While there may not be fields of grapes along main street you only need to look a bit off the path and you might be surprised. (Frietas vinyards is within sight of Fir Street and the city is also providing all the water for the college vinyard as well, then you have Alcantara to the south. etc)

Aside from that- how many wine tasting rooms are there in old town? While the grapes might not be obvious those are and they are more likely the reason for the designation.


Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2014
Article comment by: Where are all the wine grapes In Cottonwood?

I've yet see a field of grapes in Cottonwood. This, combined with the new "Brand" looks like the Mayor loves her vino....and is promoting her own personal interests on the taxpayers $$$$$.



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