Creating a Student-run Vineyard
The Southwest Wine Center will feature a total of 17 acres of vines to be planted over the next three years in the foothills of Mingus Mountain on Yavapai College’s Verde Valley campus. The vineyard will provide students with hands-on real world, scientific experience in vineyard establishment and management including, plant science, water management, vine selection, land preparation, and planting and harvesting the grapes.
Acre #1 (May 2010)
In the spirit of the educational aspect of the vineyard, Merkin Vineyards planted the entire acre in Negroamaro, a variety native to southern Italy that’s name means ‘black bitter.’ “It’s the first time it has been tried in Arizona,” YC Director of Viticulture and Enology, Nikki Check says, “but, like other Italian varieties that have been tried in Arizona, we think it will do great. It will be a learning experience for us and the students.”
Acres #2-4 (May 2012)
Individuals, business, community, and government leaders from the Verde Valley community took part in the first annual Plant-a-Vine(yard) event to help with the planting of 3 acres of vines which included Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Viognier varietals.
Acres #5-7 (May 2013)
One acre of Cabernet Sauvignon and two acres of Malvasia Bianca vines were added to the student-run vineyard when over 150 community volunteers participated in the 2nd annual Plant-A-Vine day. The Malvasia becomes the second white varietal to be planted. It has a mid-season budbreak with good production. It is a very fragrant Mediterranean grape and probably the best Arizona white.
Acres #8-10 (May 2014)
In 2014 the vineyard added three new varietals; Aglianico, Refosco, and Barbera – a family of dark-skinned grapes found in several Italian wine regions. Like so many Italian wine grape varieties, these each have ancient origins and have flourished in warm dry climates.
The Remaining 8 Acres (2015-2018)
Prospective varietals for the remaining 14 acres include Albariño, Vermintino, Nero D’Avola, Sangiovese, and Cariñena, with a few Rhone and Bordeaux varietals planted to round out the estate vineyard.