Emerging Arizona winemakers compete in blind taste test this weekend

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Wine business is still growing in Arizona. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Wine business is still growing in Arizona. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Mesa resident Tom Messier makes wine out of his home. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Mesa resident Tom Messier makes wine out of his home. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
He is now entering his "TnT" wine into the college's Arizona Emerging Winemakers Symposium this weekend. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) He is now entering his "TnT" wine into the college's Arizona Emerging Winemakers Symposium this weekend. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Like a fine wine, Arizona winemaking is getting better with age. And there is a growing number of urban winemakers. Yavapai Community College is putting these "backyard bottlers" to the test this weekend in its first-ever Arizona Emerging Winemakers Competition. 

[RELATED: Arizona winemaker earns top awards]

They have 44 entrants in this weekend's symposium at the Southwest Wine Center, entering a total of 127 different wines.

[RELATED: Yes, there are wineries in Arizona!]

Six years ago, Mesa resident Tom Messier was just a wine drinker.

"I started off with a kit and then I progressed," Messier said. He has progressed to a room of wine fridges and chemistry equipment, and oak barrels in his dining room.

"It was fun getting them here, too," Messier said.

[RELATED: AZ wants to squeeze into the competitive wine-making marketplace]

He is about to graduate from the Viticulture & Enology School at Yavapai Community College. He is now entering his "TnT" wine into the college's Arizona Emerging Winemakers Symposium this weekend.

"I get my grapes from the Verde Valley, I get some grapes from Tucson, Wilcox," Messier said. 

[RELATED: Near Sedona's famed red rocks, a wine trail in Arizona]

Lisa Russell with the school's Southwest Wine Center's Tasting Room said the economy in many parts of Arizona is shifting, thanks to wine tourism.

"Now, we need a skilled workforce because our wineries are growing and our vineyards are growing," Russell said. "We're seeing more bed and breakfasts being developed, we're seeing more restaurants in development."

She said this symposium will help bridge the gap between amateur winemaker and commercial producer.

[RELATED: Southeastern Arizona is wine country (July 16, 2015)]

"It's growing and growing and the wines are getting better and better," Messier said.

The Symposium is this Saturday from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at 601 Black Hills Dr., Clarkdale, Arizona. For more information, click here.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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