Somm Insider: Vol. 2 – Arizona Emerging Winemakers Competition & Symposium

WHAT: The Arizona Emerging Winemakers Competition & Symposium
WHEN: Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by Awards Celebration
LOCATION: Yavapai College, 601 Black Hills Drive, Clarkdale, AZ 86324
BY: Darla Hoffmann

Have you ever heard someone say, “It started as a hobby and then…”? I think it’s exciting to see people take risks and explore new adventures, and just such an opportunity is offered at The Arizona Emerging Winemakers Competition and Symposium; giving aspiring winemakers the opportunity to showcase their creations in an educational environment.

This competition is the brain-child of chairman Bill Anderson. His daughter, Lisa Russell, is now the Tasting Room Manager at the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College. Bill and Lisa both graduated from Yavapai’s Viticulture and Enology program with an Associates of Applied Sciences degree, which prepares students for a variety of careers in vineyards and wineries; from winemakers to cellar workers to lab technicians.

Maybe you’ve been making wine in your garage after work, experimenting with growing your own vines, or maybe you’ve actually been making wine for years to share with family and friends–if so, this competition is for you! All amateurs are welcome to submit their wines. “We want to generate public interest and connect them with professional winemakers,” says Bill. And even though this is the inaugural year for the competition, keen interest suggests that this event is going to be an ongoing affair.

The event is sponsored by The Friends of the Southwest Wine Center, a group devoted to increasing recognition and funds for the programs of the Southwest Wine Center and Yavapai College’s Grand Crew, a Viticulture and Enology organization for students, alumni, and industry supporters.

Emil Molin, President of the Grand Crew association, views this competition as a natural adjunct to generate interest and promote wine education. “I’m a huge fan of community colleges in Arizona in general,” says Emil, “but I’d put the educators at Yavapai’s wine college up against any educator in the industry. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a better educator than Michael Pierce,” he continues, referring to the Director of Viticulture & Enology at the Southwest Wine Center.

So, for all of you who share the love of the grape, and have always wondered ‘What if?’, I encourage you to hand over that homemade bottle and see how you fare! You have nothing to lose and a whole community of support to gain.

**Wines must be must submitted by March 31st to: Yavapai College, 601 Black Hills Drive, Clarkdale, AZ, 86324, C/O Michael Pierce. All entries must be mailed from within Arizona, and drop-off locations around the valley are available as well. For further information, visit

Business owner, Darla Hoffmann, passed both her Sommelier Level 1 and Certified Level 2 exams with the highest score in her class, earning the esteemed “Walter Clore Scholarship”. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine and Hospitality Beverage under the Society of Wine Educators, a Certified Beer Server/Level 1 under the Cicerone Program, and a member of The Wine Century Club. Additionally, she works in the tasting room at LDV Wine Gallery, an award-winning winery in Scottsdale, has written for City Sun Times and MYnewsMesa, and has been a guest writer on The Society of Wine Educators’ site. Darla is the sole proprietor of About Wine, which focuses on wine education and marketing through means of tastings, classes, marketing, and promotions. She conducts customized classes at various restaurants and events in Phoenix, such as Wine 101: ‘The Grape Expedition’ series, and Italian Varietals: Wines of Bordeaux, Spain & Portugal. For more info, visit:

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