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Sedona's Agricultural Past and Present Adventures

By: Roger Naylor

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July 17, 2018

Sample Sedona’s wines and locally grown food for authentic flavors of the region.

About the author

Roger Naylor

Roger Naylor

Roger Naylor is a travel writer who hates to travel. At least anywhere beyond his beloved Arizona. He specializes in lonely hiking trails, twisting back roads, diners with fresh burgers sizzling on the grill, small towns, ghost towns and pie. His work appears weekly in the Arizona Republic. He has contributed to Arizona Highways, USA Today, Western Art & Architecture, Go Escape, Route 66 Magazine and dozens more. He is the author of Boots & Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers and Arizona Kicks on Route 66. He lives in Cottonwood, Arizona and can be reached through his website,

A common misconception about Arizona is that it is only a desert, but the state boasts a stunning array of habitats.

Yes, there's a desert – the biologically diverse Sonoran Desert – but also the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest. Of course, you can’t forget the Grand Canyon – one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – which gives the state its nickname.

Then there’s the red rock wonderland of Sedona.

Sedona’s farming history

Recognized the world over for its scenic beauty, as well as for its power as an artistic and spiritual destination, Sedona sprouted from humble beginnings. It was founded by farmers.

In 1876, James Thompson became the first white settler in Oak Creek Canyon, where he tended gardens once worked by the Apaches.

With year-round water, a long growing season, abundant sunshine and rich volcanic soil, the land along Oak Creek must have seemed like paradise. Crops and orchards were planted. A community formed around a handful of homesteads.

Not much has changed. The area continues to expand, but its agricultural roots still run deep. Family-run farms continue to cultivate the surrounding Verde Valley – their crops helping to revolutionize the culinary scene. Local fruit, herbs and produce, trout pulled fresh from Oak Creek and beef raised on nearby ranches have become menu mainstays. Seasonal ingredients allow chefs to innovate with fresh palate-pleasing dishes.

Raise a glass to Verde Valley wine

Before there were boutique wineries, it was actually Heinrich and Dorette Schuerman who got the first grape rolling on the wine scene. The couple arrived in 1884 and proceeded to plant a vineyard and orchard along the creek. They later sold their produce and wine to loggers in Flagstaff and miners in Jerome.

Today, rows of grapevines still grow on rocky shoulders of ground above Oak Creek and the Verde River, producing some of the best wines in the state. Wander out to the countryside to explore rustic wineries where you can lift a glass of spicy Syrah or flannel-soft Zinfandel on shady porches overlooking fruit-laden vineyards.

Visit vino tasting rooms scattered throughout the historic downtowns of Sedona, Cottonwood, JeromeClarkdale and Camp Verde. Sample a flight while a musician plays; maybe walk to a restaurant next door for a meal paired with wine bottled just a cork’s throw from where you sit.

Create your own adventure in Sedona

A hot air balloon rides high in the sky above SedonaAll photos courtesy of Visit Sedona

Sedona still inspires a powerful connection to the land. Something about the breathtaking skyline – towering sandstone formations surrounded by vast swaths of wilderness beneath a crystal-clear sky – resonates with visitors.

Those who come to town experience it in so many ways. Some spend their time hiking the 300-miles of trails weaving among the red rocks. Some meditate at vortex sites or travel to ancient American Indian pueblos.

Others explore the dozens of colorful galleries or rejuvenate with healing treatments offered by the many professional practitioners.

Every visitor in their own way looks to put down roots, even ethereal ones, in this special place. It’s a way to hold on to the things that are truly important in life. If you’re the least bit unsure of what those priorities are, come to Sedona. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they sort themselves out.

Brought to you by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau and contributor Roger Naylor, (800) 288-7336,

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