Verde Valley employees are helping to promote tourism and economic growth by providing gas service to new venues in the scenic region.

Two examples are Merkin Vineyards Hilltop Winery & Trattoria, which opened in October in Old Town Cottonwood, and Ambiente, a luxurious Sedona resort that opened in early 2023.

In Cottonwood, UniSource worked with a developer on the Merkin Vineyards’ seven-acre complex, which sits on the hill overlooking Old Town. The vineyard is owned by Maynard James Keenan, better known as the lead singer of the rock band Tool.

“This is the buzz of this district and the valley. It’s going to be a big draw of tourist dollars to this town and community,” said Duncan Jakes, Manager of UniSource Gas Operations.

The location required gas meters to four buildings: the restaurant, the greenhouse, a cellar and a retail shop.

The greenhouse is used to grow many of the vegetables and herbs for the restaurant. The cellar produces wine from the adjacent 5.4-acre vineyard. Guests also can travel to Old Town via a dedicated incline lift, which is designed to be accessible to riders with disabilities.

“Installing the service line and setting the four gas meters on top of the hill was somewhat complex as the service line cuts through the terraced hillside used to grow the grapes.  We worked with developer on all of the natural gas needs,” Jakes said.

The vineyard is part of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce’s ongoing branding as “The Heart of the Arizona Wine Country,” which UniSource has supported with previous winery and brewery projects. Read more about UniSource’s support of the wine country region.

In Sedona, the Ambiente resort has been featured in national publications and international promotions for its views of the red rocks.

UniSource installed individual service lines and meters for each of its 40 cube-shaped guest “atriums,” Jakes said. UniSource had to tap into a high-pressure main line and added a regulating station to serve Ambiente, which was carefully designed to adapt with the environment and avoid disturbing vegetation.

UniSource gas provides the heating needs and the fuel for firepits on the atriums’ rooftop decks, which provide spectacular views of the red rocks. In addition, natural gas is piped into a converted Airstream, where food is prepared for a resort restaurant.

UniSource began its work in 2021, and the project took about two years. UniSource is an active member of the Cottonwood and Sedona Chambers of Commerce to promote and support the region’s economic growth.

“For UniSource, both of these were very big projects that help support tourism and economic development in the region. We’re proud to support our business community with these and other projects,” Jakes said.

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