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How can you make wine in the desert? Sedona Verde Valley’s viticulture secret

It’s all about microclimate. This natural phenomenon occurs when certain geographic formations result in the climate of a small region, often a valley, being significantly warmer or cooler than the surrounding area. Microclimates can also have variances in rainfall, when compared to the surrounding area, making choosing the right microclimate region essential for growing great wine. Here in Sedona Verde Valley, our microclimate is created by a low-hanging valley between the Verde River and West Beaver Creek. These two rivers make the temperature around the Valley much cooler than the surrounding area, while still maintaining the arid climate that makes great wine. Growing wine between two rivers isn’t unique to Sedona Verde Valley either, some of the world’s classic wine regions share this geography, including: Burgundy and Loire, France; Piedmont, Italy; and Napa, California.

Hillside vines in South Africa

Another important feature for great wine is elevation. The Romans knew how important hillsides were for great grape vines, creating the saying “Bacchus loves hills.” Vines on hills are stronger, and create grapes with many more characteristics than those on flat plains. Luckily, the Sedona Verde Valley has tons of elevation changes throughout the region, varying over 3000 ft. from the lowest to highest point! Sedona Verde Valley vineyards like Oak Creek and Alcantara take full advantage of this elevation change, and a drive through the Valley clearly shows our vine-covered hills. Our growers have used decades of experimentation to learn which elevations have the best rainfall and the best temperature to grow the best grapes.

Harvesters like these at Clear Creek Vineyards have lots of experience in the Sedona Verde Valley microclimate!

Sedona Verde Valley is definitely not what you’d think of as a classic wine region, being surrounded by desert. However, using the centuries-old principles of wine-growing geography, plus the magic of microclimate, the winemakers of Sedona Verde Valley have been crafting world-quality wines for decades. Today we proudly feature this dedication at the dozens of wineries on the Verde Valley Wine Trail. It’s something you’ve just got to see for yourself!