Construction begins on first distillery in SE Wash. - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Construction begins on first distillery in SE Wash.

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WEST RICHLAND, Wash. -- The first distillery in South Eastern Washington officially broke ground today. Project leaders think the new distillery will help boost the already booming agriculture industry and bring big dollars to the area.

It is called the Black Heron Spirits Distillery and Ports Works. It will eventually go on Keene Road in West Richland.

The idea is to make a concentrated liquor using a number of locally grown crops. It's the brainchild of Joel Tefft, who for the past 20 years owned Tefft Cellars Winery in the Yakima Valley.

Eventually the area around the distillery will develop into the Red Mountain Wine Estates. The hope being businesses will open shop. But first, it starts with the Distillery, and it's the first of it's kind around here.

Owner Joe Tefft says, "I think it brings some novelty to the area, so we could get people to come out and do other things. A lot of people are tired of wine tasting. I mean you can only do it a few times. You need something else, and I think we can bring wine people to the distillery."

The project is set to cost around a half-million dollars. The only catch is Tefft has to build it first, before he can get Federal licensing.

Tefft says he's a bit worried if it falls through, but is confident his experience in the industry is what will make this successful.

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