Originally Published: March 11, 2018 6:05 a.m.
Dewey-Humboldt may have its first vineyard along Highway 69 as Mogollon Vineyards, a family-owned winery located north of Snowflake in the White Mountains, has received approval for a use permit from the Town Council.
Owners Keith and D’Alene Moore applied for the permit for 2.4 acres of property located on the west side of Highway 69 formerly used as a T-shirt screen printing business.
The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission held a public meeting on Jan. 4, and voted unanimously to recommend the application to the Town Council, with three conditions: a five-year time frame for the use permit before coming back for review and renewal; a special inspection before occupancy of any structures; and to maintain a basic permit and bonding through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Community Planner Steven Brown said the town received no comments from surrounding property owners within a 300-foot radius of the project site at the P&Z public hearing.
The town’s 2009 General Plan designates the property as general commercial. Brown said the town’s review of the liquor license application noted the current zoning, C2-35 (Commercial; General Sales and Services) does not allow the operation of a winery, necessitating the need for a use permit. Mogollon Vineyards holds a current Arizona Series 13 Liquor License and a Federal Basic Permit.
“We would like to move our operation to Dewey-Humboldt to be closer to family and to be around more people that appreciate fine wine,” Moore indicated in his letter to the council dated Nov. 30. “Yavapai County is turning into an up-and-coming wine region and we want to be a part of it.”
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Moore received his training in winemaking through the Yavapai College Enology program at the Clarkdale campus. He has been a contractor in Arizona for 35 years and has raised cattle and farmed near Flagstaff.
Five years ago, he began looking for a low-water, high-value crop. He investigated the wine industry and started Mogollon Vineyards two years ago.
Plans include planting grapes on the vacant portions of the property, which will take at least three years, preferably four to six years, to produce, Moore said. In the meantime, he would purchase grapes from Willcox. He currently processes four to six tons of fruit a year, which equals about 700 gallons of wine, or 3,500 bottles.
“We are not a large production winery, nor do we want to become one. We keep it small and fun,” Moore said in his letter.
In answer to Councilman Jack Hamilton’s question at the Jan. 16 council meeting, Moore said the plan for the Dewey-Humboldt site is to provide Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Tempranillo and other varieties. Mogollon Vineyards won a bronze medal at the AZCentral AZ Wine Competition for its 2016 Grenache Rose. The property would have a retail store, and the company will also sell the wine online.
The owners will need to acquire a driveway permit from the Arizona Department of Transportation showing the change in property ownership, Brown said. Access to the property is from the frontage road parallel to Highway 69. If a significant amount of traffic is generated, the owner will need to complete a traffic study or evaluation, and complete any improvements as requested by ADOT.
Gary Mortimer, owner of Mortimer Family Farms in Dewey, attended the Jan. 16 meeting and called the request a “no-brainer.” He said Dewey-Humboldt has the perfect climate for a vineyard and it will give people one more reason to stop in the community.
Council voted unanimously on Jan. 16 to approve the use permit. However, the agenda item did not reflect council could take action on the item. On Feb. 20, council ratified their Jan. 16 action.