COTTONWOOD -- The Cottonwood City Council this week saw a glowing report of the wine industry taken from a tourism perspective.
The study, assembled from 500 visitor surveys at 11 sites in Northern and Southern Arizona, documents what type of visitor is attracted to the wine industry, where they come from and how much they are spending.
Tom Combrink of NAU's W.A. Franke College of Business was the Senior Researcher for the Arizona Office of Tourism study conducted during February through May at 11 sites across the states. The report was released in June and presented to the City Council Tuesday.
Arizona has three primary wine growing areas. In addition to the Verde Valley, grapes are also grown in Cochise County and around Sonoita near the Mexican border.
Combrink says the business attracts a younger visitor with a high average income who tends to travel in a larger group than the typical Arizona average.
Most (59 percent) are from Arizona, but California visitors (8 percent) are also frequently drawn to the wind districts. Those from the Midwest and Washington State followed.
Most Arizona visitors are from Maricopa County, though 15 percent hail from Yavapai. Combrink says the study shows that advertising in Maricopa County would be profitable. "Maricopa is a huge market and 25 percent is a large number of first time visitors.
Over half (51.9 percent) of respondents said they had visited wineries up to five times during the last 12 months.
Some 73 percent of those surveyed reported purchasing wine, typically about three bottles, spending $64 during their visit.
The number of those who said they had a very pleasant visit signaled a very positive note; 63 percent said their experience was "much better than they had expected."
More visitors who came north, tended to stay overnight compared with those who made daytrips. Daytrips were more popular among those who visited the Southern vineyards.
The overnight visits were mainly spent in motels in Sedona (60 percent), with Cottonwood motels second (17 percent) compared with Flagstaff or Prescott stops.
Combrink says the wine industry accounts for about $18.1 million in direct spending, plus an additional $15 million in indirect revenue.
Combrink also commented on his own Old Town experience, which has also benefited from the wine industry. He commended Cottonwood for restoration of the historic district. "When I visited 22 years ago, there wasn't even a dog crossing the road," said Combrink.