Kingman finding a place on the map as Arizona wine country

RAND TERWILLEGER/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->County Supervisor Gary Watson (left) helps Don Stetson and his wife shovel dirt over the first of many grapevines that will be planted at the new Stetson Winery in Valle Vista. <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

RAND TERWILLEGER/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->County Supervisor Gary Watson (left) helps Don Stetson and his wife shovel dirt over the first of many grapevines that will be planted at the new Stetson Winery in Valle Vista. <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

VALLE VISTA - A new industry is taking root just outside of Kingman that will market the area as a destination for wine travelers and enthusiasts. Resident Don Stetson and his business partners broke ground on a new winery and event center in Valle Vista on Sept. 30. Stetson Winery is the second such endeavor to break ground in the Valle Vista area. Cella Winery, which is located nearby, harvested its first crop of mature grapes in September.

When it is completed, Stetson Winery will house not only winemaking equipment, but also a tasting room, sales room and event center for weddings and other parties. The building will be able to hold around 350 people with more seating outdoors, he said.

"There's no place to hold large meetings or events in the Kingman area," Stetson said. "Wine is usually served at such events, so it was a natural pairing. Also there are no wineries in Northern Arizona."

Stetson plans is to use as much local labor and materials as possible in the construction of the 6,500 square-foot facility.

"We're trying to give something back to the community," Stetson said.

The building will be made out of special pre-fabricated Air Light panels made by Wanessa Sue, Inc. located in the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park, he said.

The panels are made of a recycled material and have a high energy efficiency rating, which will cut down on the cost of heating and cooling of the building, said project consultant John Loomis. The building will also be faced with natural stone from a nearby quarry.

Stetson and Loomis hope to have the building finished by April. It will be located west of Painted Rock Drive and north of Brooks Boulevard.

The first crop of 1,400 grape vines will be planted on five acres in January or February, Stetson said. He's already tested the soil with several varieties of grapes on five acres behind his home in Valle Vista and plans to plant a mix of vines on the 15 acres surrounding the winery over the next few years.

However, he winery won't be bottling juice from its grapes for a few years. It takes two to three years for the vines to mature, Stetson said. In the meantime, the winery will use juice from other Arizona wineries.

The company hopes to employee around 34 people once all 15 acres are planted and the grapes have fully matured, Loomis said.

"This is great news for Mohave County," Mohave County Supervisor Gary Watson said at the groundbreaking. He said he is excited about not only the prospect of a new business moving into Mohave County, but possibly a whole industry.

Pam Wilkinson, the president and CEO of the Kingman Chamber of Commerce, said, she too was excited about the idea of the Kingman area becoming a wine grape growing area.