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Wine, Beer and Food

Dean Stevenson / 89Agave

While the idea of eating local has become increasingly popular, it never went out of style in the Verde Valley. The region’s lengthy human habitation can be traced back to abundant year round water and fertile soil. Local fruit and produce, grass-fed beef from nearby ranches, and trout pulled fresh from Oak Creek are menu mainstays at area restaurants.

Visitors can lift a fork in everything from casual cafes to white tablecloth dining rooms, health-conscious vegetarian to cowboy-style steakhouses, innovative Mexican to elegant Italian, and everything in between. What you won't find are many chain restaurants. Chef-owned eateries and comfortable mom-and-pops are the norm.

The latest wrinkle in the local movement is the growth of boutique wineries huddled on sloping ground above Oak Creek and the Verde River. The valley mimics some great wine growing regions of the world. Rocky soils, muscular sunshine and overnight temperature drops offer the kind of microclimate that bullies grapes just enough to bring out their best characteristics. The Verde Valley Wine Trail was established to make it easier for visitors to explore these gems, linking wineries, tasting rooms and restaurants featuring local vintages.

Folks who like their beverages on the hoppy side are in luck. Microbreweries offer an exquisite selection of craft beers. Oak Creek Brewing Co. of Sedona is the granddaddy of the bunch, opening in 1995. THAT Brewery in Cottonwood and Verde Brewing Co., a farm to mug brewing experience in Camp Verde, have quickly made names for themselves with flavorful and complex craft beers.