Join us as we kick off The Verde Valley Wine Festival with an exciting evening of fun, food, entertainment, winemakers, and their 100 percent Arizona-grown and produced wines!

Set in the historic downtown of Cottonwood Arizona, at the beautifully restored Cottonwood Clubhouse, where you will delight in the vintage charm and the gracious ambiance of yesteryear, while indulging in the culinary delights expertly prepared by Merkin’s brilliant award-winning Chef, Chris Smith.

For certain it will be a tantalizing culinary experience paired with the finest Arizona wines. The menu features items from the Merkin Osteria, Old Town Cottonwood’s only farm-to-table restaurant, and the brand new Merkin Kebab Wagon, serving authentic Mediterranean cuisine. We will have several vegetarian options available too.

Guests can enjoy Merkin Osteria pasta choices such as meat or veggie lasagna cupcakes (made from scratch with local ingredients), as well as meat or veggie kebabs with basmati berry rice from the Kebab Wagon. And of course, dessert!


Each course will be served with amazing wines from some of our participating wineries. Meet the winemakers, while they share their personal favorite pairings.


Entertainment by the enchanting 3-piece jazz band “What’s The Big Idea” from Phoenix, Arizona, featuring Josh Kneisel (bass), David Drew (drums), and Mike Kleinschmidt (piano).

Later in the evening you’ll feel the excitement in the room as our live auctioneer, Jim Moore and his team take the floor! Get your bidding numbers ready—you won’t be able to resist competing for this year’s exclusive packages!

There is no better way to FUNd the scholarship, advocacy, and promotion of the quality of 100% Arizona-grown and produced wines than this event!

We hope you’ll Join Us!

April 29th, 2022
6:00 – 9:00 PM

Capacity for the event is limited so don’t wait!
Sorry, the Platinum VIP Experience is SOLD OUT, but we do still have a limited number of  Friday night only tickets (covers pre-festival live auction, dinner, wine, and celebration- no festival admission is included). $99 These Friday night tickets go off-sale on Thursday, April 21 at 10pm. 


Chef Chris Smith
Jim Moore

Chef Christopher Smith, Merkin Osteria’s culinary genius, was born and raised in Flagstaff. He attended Scottsdale Culinary Institute and has a long history creating and mastering his skills in the kitchen. Once a personal Chef, as well as a Restaurateur, he has also held the Executive Chef title at Robert’s Creekside, Sedona Rouge, the Asylum, and Los Abrigados. Smith believes in keeping his menu as local as possible. He makes his own bread, pasta, and sauces—using Arizona flour—and sources much of the produce from Merkin’s own orchard, gardens, and greenhouse.

 What’s The Big Idea is a modern Jazz trio Formed in 2012, consisting of Drummer David Drew, Bassist Josh Kneisel, and Pianist Michael Kleinschmidt. With 2 albums to their credit, “WTBI” performs 150+ events around Arizona annually. Aside from traditional and contemporary jazz influences, “WTBI” transforms modern rock classics from Tool, Green Day, and Pink Floyd into a modern jazz instrumental experience.


Local Auctioneer Jim Moore was taken with the speedy cadence of the auctioneer while growing up in Kentucky. As a kid he’d tag along with his grandfather to area auctions at farms and livestock houses where he’d listen intently to the smooth tones and quick rhythm of the man behind the microphone.

After relocating to Los Angeles in his twenties, he found himself in demand due to his clear delivery and entertaining style. While doing numerous charity auctions in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach, Palos Verdes, and throughout Southern California, his primary profession was in Entertainment & Sports Public Relations where he handled such campaigns and careers as Garth Brooks, Laker great James Worthy, Olympic Gold Medalist Florence Griffith Joyner, and numerous films and television shows.

After retiring from the entertainment industry, he pursued his true love of horses and the Western lifestyle and created Cowboy Boot Camp Horsemanship now based in Sedona. Currently, he teaches natural horsemanship at his ranch in the Village of Oak Creek but still travels to Southern California where he instructs the U.S. Army on handling horses and teaches “Leadership through Horsemanship” at USC.