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Del Rio Springs Vineyard

the public works department at Petaluma, California. Whilst there, the Skladziens undertook intensive research on grape growing, via classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College, learning further details on grape growing, vineyard management, and wine-making. Somehow, the cooler climate in the Chino Valley area allows for less rot of those tight clusters of Pinot Noir grapes, but spring frosts can still be a problem since they can arrive as late as Mother’s Day. So how do you make sure that Pinot Noir survives the spring frosts? The key according to Rick is long-pruning, leaving four buds instead of two. This allows for some leeway when the hard spring frosts invariably arrive, allowing the vines to weather the cold. Also, the use of rootstocks is particularly important here. Most vineyards in Arizona use a strain known as 1130 P, but in Chino Valley, this rootstock doesn’t work, and can lead in the long run to vines dying during the colder winters. Instead, Rick and Maricor have grafted their vines to two different strains which handle the cooler climate better, while still being drought tolerant: 101-14 and 3309. The cooler climate in Chino valley also allows for different grapes to be grown than those common in Willcox, and their vintages of a unique grape known as Phoenix are Summer Fall 2016in the slightest. This grape produces a not to- be missed DISPLAYbeautiful, UNTIL NOV 2016 $3.95dry white wine with notes of crisp apple, delicate, cream, and lychee, with a refreshing acidity. Originating in Germany, I was surprised to learn that this varietal is among the most popular wine grapes grown in the British Isles. “It was a no-brainer for us to plant it here,” reports Rick. “It does

well in cooler climates, and since it shares a name with the state capital, we just had to give it a try in our vineyard.” The trailblazing example of the Skladziens at Del Rio Springs is only the beginning for the Chino Valley area. Other people are beginning to take note of the region and are planting other high elevation, cool-weather varietals such as Teroldego, Ribolla Gialla, and Fiano. Rick and Maricor also plan on planting Chardonnay, and experimenting further with cooler-weather varietals such as Pinot Blanc, and Gewürztraminer. Previous vintages of wines from this vineyard were made at the Aridus facility in Willcox, but starting with the 2016 vintage, they will be making their wines on site in their own winery building. You can often find the Skladziens at wine festivals, and while you can certainly find their wines at Plaza Liquor Deli in Prescott, and the Art of Wine in Sedona, a visit to their on-site tasting room is not to be missed. Call to make a reservation to visit and they’ll treat you like members of their family. The fact of the matter is, in terms of the Arizona wine industry, Chino Valley is going to be a region to watch in the next few years, and Del Rio Springs is leading the pack. Mark my words: it’s only a matter of time before the wine scene in the Chino Valley area explodes.

Arizona Wine - It’s Grand

Del Rio Springs Vineyard - Paulden, AZ 928-636-9046, DelRioSpringsVineyard.com

Cody V. Burkett is the Arizona Wine Monk. He seeks to understand the origins of the winemakers in the state. Follow his adventures with Arizona Wines at AZWineMonk.com

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Developing Water In The Desert

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Pure Varietals From The Arizona Terroir

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Trending@AZWINE Story by Mike Kilpatrick Photos by Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders and J. Andrews Photography

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Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders

or more than six years, the owners of Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders, have continued to evolve and expand their passion for creating a second to none customer experience in Old Town Cottonwood. Their hard work and creative approach to building a strong brand, and customer loyalty among an ever growing number of competitors, has resulted in a business model that has flourished. When wife and husband co-owners Dawn Waltman and Mike Kilpatrick first began thinking about putting an olive oil tasting bar in Old Town Cottonwood, there were many local business owners who looked at their business plan with skepticism. Sure, in mid-2010 there were two newly opened wine tasting rooms promoting Arizona wine, a bakery, three or four popular restaurants frequented by locals and visitors, and a couple of antique shops occupying storefronts in Old Town Cottonwood. There were also plenty of empty buildings for lease and a few boarded up buildings because the building owners could not maintain tenants whom could pay the rent. Waltman and Kilpatrick saw opportunity when others only saw despair and uncertainty. Since then, Waltman and Kilpatrick have told their story thousands of times. They had never before worked in retail, but thought having an olive oil tasting room on the same street as wine tasting rooms made sense, even in Cottonwood, Arizona. As Waltman recalls, “When Michael and I lived in Southern California, we loved to go wine tasting in the Napa Valley, Santa Yeneize and the Temecula wine region. At each of these destinations, there was always at least one company offering olive oil and balsamic vinegars tastings. We enjoyed the opportunity to taste and experience fresh olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars.” This experience of tasting and purchasing fresh extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars from a knowledgeable specialist, that were simply not available for purchase in high-end grocery stores, made for a culinary experience that was as satisfying to Waltman and Kilpatrick as discovering a new favorite wine for the first time.

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“Come to where the flavors are” Beginning in early 2010, Waltman and Kilpatrick spent months and months sourcing olive oils and balsamic vinegars suppliers who could satisfied their lofty standards of bringing only the absolute finest product to their future customers. Once that supplier was identified, the foundation of a new business venture had been set. Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders opened in Old Town Cottonwood in July, 2010. From day one, Kilpatrick proclaimed that, “We are not in the retail business…rather, we are in the edu-tainment business.” (A little education and a little entertainment.) This business principal was as true six years as it is today. When customers walk into Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders, or “VVOOT” as the owners refer to Owners Mike Kilpatrick and Dawn Waltman their shop, customers are enthusiastically welcomed. At this point, the education and entertainment begin. Some first time customers are a little startled by the somewhat showman like approach. After a few minutes, the customer can relax in the understanding that they are going to learn about what makes a great olive oil and how selecting the right olive oils and or balsamic vinegars can have tremendous health benefits. Often times, their first experience at VVOOT is so engaging, that they share their experience with family members and friends over and over again. It only took about a year before Waltman realized that they had out-grown their 860 square-foot shop in the center of Old Town and needed a larger space. Like many small towns, rumors fly up and down the street with regularity. When Waltman learned that a 2,800 square-foot building just up the street might be available for sale, she contacted the owner directly in New Mexico. It turned out that the building owner need cash and a quick sale. Waltman and Kilpatrick were eager to oblige. With a larger building at the corner of a very noticeable intersection, Waltman was able to make plans for expanding their line of product and services. More hand selected products such as specialty Italian pastas, Black Truffle Oil, Black Truffle Sea Salt, culinary sauces and unique gifts

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Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders

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Often Kilpatrick is contacted months in advance by tour group operators who call to let him know they are bringing 30-45 guests who want to visit Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders as one of their stops during the visit to Old Town. For groups of 10 or more Kilpatrick will arrange to meet with the guests in The Kitchen gathering area where they can sit down and

receive an informative and group customized Olive Oil 101 talk, complete with handouts and a brief question and answer session, before they begin tasting. This special attention to the customer experience continues to make Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders a requested destination among tour group leaders throughout Arizona. In addition to catering to several out of town tour groups and visitors on a weekly basis, Waltman and Kilpatrick have partnered up with Northern Arizona Healthcare to provide Free Community Health Screenings in their shop. The Health Screenings are one way they show the local community that they truly care about the overall summer

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When customers walk into Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders, or “VVOOT” as the owners refer to their shop, customers are enthusiastically welcomed.

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began filling the shelves. The next step was to create a space to really showcase all of the wonderful products customers at Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders had grown accustomed to. Under Waltman’s direction and planning, a demonstration kitchen was built that is now used for multiple purposes. Known simply as, The Kitchen” this unique and thoughtfully designed space is used for cooking demonstration classes as well as a gathering space for groups of 20 or less. Multiple local chefs, as well as one chef from Phoenix have used The Kitchen to entertain and inspire foodies and would-be home chefs. Chef demonstrations at The Kitchen are limited to 16 guests in order maintain a personal and hands-on experience. The Kitchen has also become a great spot to meet others in the community who share the same passion for food preparation. Chef Linda’s monthly Cooking Demonstration Classes have become so popular, there is currently a four-month waiting list to get signed up for her next class. On weekends and during the week it is not uncommon to see charter buses dropping off loads of adults to shop in Old Town.

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physical health of everyone living in the Verde Valley. Recently, Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders was host to the quarterly membership meeting of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium. From the beginning, Kilpatrick realized that he needed a strong partnership with Arizona wine growers and wine tasting rooms in order to be successful. Aside from starting and continuing to grow a small specialty business, Waltman and Kilpatrick are extremely proud of their efforts to reuse and re-purpose as much as possible. There are pallets full of empty bottles, and other products, all delivered in hundreds of cardboard boxes weekly. Rather than breaking down and throwing away cardboard containers and cardboard inserts, the side and bottom flaps are broken down and used as shipping material for their growing

Customers from as far away as Alaska traveling by motorhome have brought back empty bottles. The returned bottles are be sanitized and refilled. The packaging suppliers that Waltman partners with use only recycled paper products. Customers are encouraged to reuse the paper bags that their purchases are wrapped in, since there are no logos printed on the recycled paper bags. Another example of repurposing is the olive oil that is collected in the two ounce drip cups placed bellow each spigot of the olive oil tanks. At the end of each day a small amount of olive oil is collected from each of the 18 drip cups. Some of this oil is used to hydrate the ponderosa pine and alligator juniper planks that are everywhere in the shop. The majority of the oil is poured into 2.5 gallon plastic containers and collected every few months by Evergreen Recycling, who is able to process the discard olive oil and create biofuel. Waltman and Kilpatrcik are always striving to enrich the customer experience. They learned early on that a customer who has a great time in their shop will often share there positive experience with co-workers, family and friends. These world of mouth endorsements have brought more and more new faces into Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders who come in to see for themselves what all of the excitement is about sampling olive oil.

shipping business. The broken down cardboard is re-purposed and used to add strength and a cushioning to the U.S. Post Service Shipping boxes. Between their website driven on-line business, phone orders and customers from out of town who would like products shipped to their home state, over 20 packages are shipped out every week. Naturally, this number doubles in November and December. Customers are encouraged to return their empty bottles and receive a one dollar discount on their next purchase for every bottle returned.

One example of the high level of customer satisfaction is the fact that for the past four years, Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders has been recognized by TripAdvisor as the #1 Shopping Destination in all of Cottonwood. They are equally proud of their 2016 Certificate of Excellence status with TripAdivsior. For several months in 2015, Waltman and Kilpatrick had been trying to come up with an answer to the often asked question, “What’s new at Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders?” The two carefully reviewed other businesses located on the short two block street

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Mike Kilpatrick and his “Recipe For Success”

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Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders 1002 N. Main Street, Cottonwood, AZ VVOliveOil.com, 928-634-9900 summer

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to go along with their olive oil and balsamic vinegar purchases. Once the a-frame sign went up outside the front door proclaiming, “Fresh Fudge, Made Right Here,” curious fudge seekers came pouring in the door. “When someone comes in and asks about the fudge, we engage with them just as enthusiastically as we do with those coming in to try our olive oils and balsamic vinegars. As a result, amazing and unpredictable things began to happen. “On a regular basis, people will come in for fudge and hear a conversation about olive oil from one of our team members educating other customers,” according to Kilpatrick. “The person who came in only to check out our fudge all of a sudden is eager to learn more about the health benefits of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. There have been a number of local residents who have told me that they have walked by my shop for six years, and never once stopped in until they saw the Fresh Fudge sign. Once they came in, they understood what we were all about. Sometimes people have walked in for fudge and leave 30 minutes later with two bottles of extra virgin olive oil and two bottles of aged balsamic vinegar. Somehow they got so involve with learning about our olive oils and balsamic vinegars that they forgot about the fudge that they originally came in for”. Kilpatrick added, “Over the past few months we also have developed a local following of fudge lovers who drive from Sedona, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cottonwood and even Prescott to buy our fudge. Some of our most local fudge lovers will stop in more than once a week.” The award winning, ultra-premium olive oils from around the world, aged balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy, the specialty food items, and even the fresh fudge have blended into a culinary experience that keeps customers coming back to Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders and their second location, Jerome Olive Oil Traders. Waltman and Kilpatrick are proud of what they have accomplished. They look forward to staying true to their values by providing a unique and entertaining customer experience and earning customer loyalty for years to come.

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that makes up the Old Town Cottonwood tourist zone. They wanted to come up with a new offering that would not compete with any of the existing Old Town businesses. After researching possible new products, the idea of making and selling fresh fudge made sense to them. Since all of the extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars are sourced from multiple countries around the world, they concluded it would be important to offer a high quality product that would be made in Old Town. Once again, several local business owners and even their own family members cautioned against making and selling fresh fudge in an olive oil shop. Kilpatrick now boasts, “The more people said that making and selling fudge was not a good idea, the more I was convinced that we could make it work.” Waltman and Kilpatrick researched a leader in the fresh fudge business who partnered up with them to help insure their early success. Their new fudge product supplier based in New York, even sent a fudge-making trainer to Old Town who spent two full days instructing Kilpatrick on how to properly make, cut and package fudge. By mid-December 2015 the first half-pound bars of Fusti’s Fine Fudge began selling quickly from the store shelves. Currently 16 different varieties of traditional dark chocolate and plane chocolate fudge are available for sale. Unlike the olive oils and balsamic vinegars, there is no sampling of the fudge. “We were cautiously optimistic that the fresh made fudge would be a nice addition to our expanding product line,” Kilpatrick said. We were confident that at only $7.50 per half pound bar, this was going to be an add-on sale for our customers who just wanted a tasty treat

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Photo of Williams, Arizona by Tom Johnson summerjuly - fall / 2016 - october

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AZWINE 2016 - Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders  

For more than six years, the owners of Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders, have continued to evolve and expand their passion for creating a seco...