The richly watered Verde Valley of Central Arizona has served as a breadbasket for humans for over 2,000 years. The earliest farmers were the Hohokam people, the same culture that once thrived in Phoenix’s Salt River Valley. The Hohokam developed extensive networks of irrigation canals that transformed the bottomlands of both valleys into rich agricultural areas. These canals serve as a powerful reminder of the Hohokam and their relationship to the land.
The Sinagua people entered the region around 800 AD. The Sinagua continued to use irrigation canals, but they also mastered the art of dry-farming beans, maize, squash, and other crops. The Sinagua people flourished along the Verde and its tributaries, and are responsible for the construction of Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle, landmarks that still grace the Verde Valley today. The collapse of the Sinagua culture around 1400 AD opened the region up for new settlers. The Yavapai and then the Apache peoples arrived. Hunter-gatherers for the most part, the two cultures nevertheless continued a tradition of using the river’s vast floodplain to plant corn and other crops.
In February 1865, a group of non-native farmers from the mining camps near Prescott arrived at the confluence of West Clear Creek and the Verde River. These farmers followed in the tradition of the Verde Valley’s earliest agriculturalists — they dug irrigation canals and began applying water to bottomland. By the turn of the 20th century, settlers maintained 68 irrigation canals tapping into the Verde River and its tributaries—Beaver Creek, West Clear Creek, Oak Creek and Sycamore Creek— that watered nearly 8,000 acres of pasture, fields, and orchards.
Heritage In Camp Verde
Here are a some places to pick up a few local grown favorites:
In the last decade, Arizona has been recognized as a producer of great wine. With the combination of the perfect soil and the ability to irrigate, the Verde Valley has become a popular wine region in Arizona, and is now home to over a dozen wineries and vineyards. In Camp Verde, we are proud to have two family owned and operated vineyards only a short distance from downtown.
Ignacio Mesa, owner of Clear Creek Vineyard and Winery, was one of the first wine makers to recognize the potential the Verde Valley has to offer as a grape region. Starting over 10 years ago, Mesa has been using organic farming methods to grow his grapes that he then makes into his Rio Claro Wine. His winery and vineyard are open Wednesday through Saturday for guests to stop by and enjoy a wine tasting.
Salt Mine Wine planted grapes and developed their own vineyard and winery on a historic farm off Salt Mine Road. They have released a limited production of vintage Arizona wines. Their tasting room is open every Saturday and holidays.
Annexed into the Town of Camp Verde in September of 2020, Alcantera Vineyards is the newest addition to the Camp Verde winery family. Alcantera Vineyard began in 2004, when founders Barbara and Bob Predmore recognized that the soil and climate in the Verde Valley resembled the wine making regions of Italy and France. Since its inception, Alcantera has grown dramatically and now has over 20,000 vines, offering 17 different varietals. A trip to this little slice of paradise offers peaceful surroundings which include the vineyards, a grass picnic area, access to the Verde River, and much, much more!
Many of our restaurants source their produce and meats from local farms. With an abundance of sun all year round, and access to the Verde River, local farms can grow a variety of vegetables and fruits making this region seem more than just a desert.