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This award honors Henry Schuerman. Here is why…
His story begins in 1884 when Henry Schuerman received a 160-acre plot on Oak Creek as repayment of a $500 debt.
A Prescott hotelier at the time, Schuerman and his wife Doretta set off for the red rock country with the intention of flipping the property and heading back to civilization at the earliest opportunity.
But like so many since, who have come under the spell of Sedona’s enchanted landscape and temperate climate, the Schuermans decided to stay. They soon purchased additional land and, like most of their neighbors, started planting fruit trees.
But Henry also noticed that wild grapes grew in abundance along the banks of Oak Creek. It occurred to him that a vineyard might be appropriate.
According to the Sedona Historical Society, Henry and Doretta planted Zinfandel vines on several of the 72 acres of land that was under irrigation, enough acreage in fact that the Schuermans were soon operating Arizona’s first commercial winery.
For the next 25 years or so, the Schuerman Winery provided wine to neighbors, loggers working the woods along the Mogollon Rim, cowboys working the valley’s abundant grasslands and, most lucrative of all, the miners of Jerome working the mineral rich Black Hills to the south.
The Schuerman Winery sold wine by the bottle and delivered it by the barrel—that is until Henry was arrested.
Arizona went “dry’” on New Year’s Day, 1915. But Henry’s Saxon mindset couldn’t grasp the concept that wine was an illegal drug. Sometime afterwards he was taken to Prescott and served time under house arrest.
By the time the governor pardoned Henry, the vineyard had gone fallow. Shortly thereafter the stone building used for the winery swept away in a flood. In 1920, Henry died of a broken heart.