CAMP VERDE - The Verde Valley's first wine symposium, held in Camp Verde last Saturday was meant to do two things -- bring attention to local wine business and what the buzz is all about, and to raise some money to further its exposure.
In both aspects, it was a success, according to organizer and Verde Valley Wine Consortium President Tom Pitts.
"For a first-time event it was everything you could ask for. And it set the stage for what we hope will become not only an annual event, but something that only gets bigger and better," Pitts said this week.
At least 100 people showed up, some for the symposium, which featured speakers, some for the wine tasting and auction, some for the dinner and most for all the events.
"We had some great speakers, people who can help open some doors for us. And all the better, we filled the room for every one of them, which says something, given all the other things that were going on around the valley that day," Pitts said.
But perhaps the best part, at least as far as the VVWC and the wine programs at Yavapai College were concerned, was that folks came out and spent some money.
"It was our first big fund-raiser and gives the consortium an opportunity to start on a list of projects we have contemplated for some time but didn't have the money to do," said Cottonwood Economic Development Director and VVAC board member Casey Rooney
The live auction, in which participants bid on wine barrels painted by numerous valley artists, raised more than $10,000.
The proceeds will go toward purchasing more barrels so a second auction can be held, and the remainder will be donated to the viticulture and oenology programs at Yavapai College, and to the Yavapai College Foundation for the construction of the Southwest Wine Center.
In addition, the consortium raised nearly $4,000 to continue its work of promoting the valley wine business and funding a second symposium next year.