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Wine is beginning to flow like water in the Verde Valley.

Just a few years back, the wine industry had yet to take its hold on the area and the economy, but there was hope in the air.

Today, area leaders look to its possibilities to boost the economy.

Sedona Red Rock News Managing Editor Trista Steers MacVittieOn Saturday, April 28, the Verde Valley Wine Consortium will host the first ever Verde Valley Wine Symposium and Auction.

Wine is putting the Verde Valley on the map.

Each community in the Verde Valley relies heavily on tourists to spend their money in our businesses, generating sales tax to pay for local government service.

The wine industry gives us one more edge.

We have Sedona’s red rocks, Oak Creek, the Verde River, Jerome and Fort Verde State Historic Park bringing visitors from all over the world each year, but how do we keep them coming back for more?

From vineyards to tasting rooms, wine adds another element to offerings and seems to be thriving in all of the communities.

The wine consortium, a nonprofit, came together to promote Sedona and the Verde Valley as a region on the wine scene, and the symposium is a sign it is making progress.

The event will give participants a chance to see what has taken shape in the Verde Valley with regard to the industry.

Not only is the Verde Valley now home to vineyards and tasting rooms, but it is actually training the next generation of winemakers. Yavapai College in Clarkdale now offers a viticulture program and operates its very own vineyard.

The symposium will be held at Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde and features guest speakers, a painted barrel auction and a silent auction. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.yc.edu/WineSymposium2012.

The color of Verde Valley’s future may be a deep red as wine takes hold of the region and attracts even more people to our beautiful valley.

Christopher Fox Graham was born in Montana and raised in Arizona. He was introduced to slam poetry at age 20 before graduating from Arizona State University with a degree in English and a minor in history.
Graham first slammed in the Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix slam scenes. He has since published four books of poetry and a CD, been featured on three DVDs and performed poetry in 36 states, Ontario, Canada, Great Britain, and Dublin, Ireland.
Graham won his first slot on the Flagstaff Poetry Slam Team in 2001 and competed at his first National Poetry Slam in Seattle that year. He also won slots on the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2010 Flagstaff teams, every year he competed.
In 2002, Graham and three other performers — poet Josh Fleming, guitarist Keith Breukner, and playwright David F. Escobedo —  toured nationally, performing 37 shows in 26 U.S. states from California to Maine, and Ontario, Canada, over three months. Venues included the Nuyorican Poets Café in Manhattan, N.Y., the Green Mill Lounge in Chicago, the International Buskerfest in Toronto, and KUNM radio in Albuquerque, N.M.
Graham won the 2004 Northern Arizona Poetry Grand Slam, the 2005 Arizona All-Star Poetry Slam.
Graham founded and has hosted the Sedona Poetry Open Mic since 2004 and the Sedona Poetry Slam since 2008.
Graham has been a co-director of GumptionFest, an annual, three-day, free grassroots arts festival held in Sedona, since its inception in 2006.
Graham has been Assistant Managing Editor of the Sedona Red Rock News since 2009 and won numerous awards for headline writing, copy editing, community service and journalistic achievement. He was on the Sedona Child & Youth Commission from 2005-2008 and chairman from 2006-2008.
Graham has performed for MTV’s “Made” and on The Travel Channel’s “Your Travel Guide” episode of Sedona. Graham was also featured in a story “Have gun, will speak freely,” on the Sedona Poetry Gun Club published in 944 entertainment magazine in June 2007.

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