Yavapai College’s Southwest Wine Center, located on the Verde Valley campus in Clarkdale, won the Award of Distinction at the Arizona Forward 39th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards Gala on Sept. 21. The honor recognizes the Southwest Wine Center as a leader in adopting environmentally sustainable practices for a better Arizona.

The Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence awards, presented in partnership with the Salt River Project, recognize projects, businesses, and individuals that support environmental sustainability and stewardship in Arizona.

The Southwest Wine Center won in the Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future category, specific to programs that nurture “Arizona’s future through creative initiatives, public policies and/or collaborative efforts that enhance the state’s environmental quality, economic vitality and sustainability.”

Environmentally sustainable practices, such as reusing reclaimed Grade A+ effluent water and conserving water via an advanced drip system, led to securing the award.

Michael Pierce, Director of the Viticulture and Enology programs at the Southwest Wine Center, accepted the award on behalf of Yavapai College. “We are proud to be acknowledged as a leader in environmentally sustainable practices in Arizona. Although our primary goal is to teach students the skills and knowledge they need to be a success in the wine industry, we also stress the importance of cultivating a climate-appropriate agricultural crop using sustainable water conservation practices,” said Pierce.

The Southwest Wine Center is the only program of its kind in Arizona, offering hands-on instruction in both Viticulture (science of grape growing) and Enology (science of winemaking). The programs immerse students in real-world experiences, which cannot be duplicated in a classroom setting alone. 

The Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College is located at 601 Black Hills Drive in Clarkdale. The wine tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday from Noon to 6 p.m. For more information, contact or 928.634.6566. Learn more about their academic programs and resources by going online to