BENTON CITY, Wash.-- The peak tourism season in the Columbia Valley is approaching and visitors are showing a growing interest in agritourism.
The blending of agriculture and activity is attracting people and changing what the region offers to tourists.
The Columbia Valley has lots to offer visitors and as the prime tourist season gears up, farmers and growers are diversifying what they can show tourists who are coming to town.
Our region is known for wine tasting, but now the term wine connoisseur is taking on a whole new meaning for tourists.
The wine tasting tourist is developing their palate and showing interest in more than just sipping some sauvignon.
Tourists are now asking for an experience that takes them from grape to glass.
Agritourism marries two of our biggest industries agriculture and tourism giving the area a boost in business.
"We find that tourists like to show up at a new destination and understand how the whole process works. They want to get their hands dirty," said Jordan Youngs, Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau.
"People have a lot of interest. They want to learn more than just stand at the taste bar and taste a few wines. They want to interact a lot more. We're giving them as many choices as we can to do that," said Keith Pilgrim, Terra Blanca Winery.
At Terra Blanca winery in Benton City, peak tourist season is starting.
Twenty percent of their visitors come from outside the state and more of them want to know how Washington wine is made.
"Many of them are flying into the region to taste wines, to experience the wineries and the vineyards, to learn something about the wineries and vineyards. That whole agritourism or learning more about what you're eating and drinking is certainly a big part of that," Pilgrim said.
Terra Blanca now offers hands on tours where visitors can prune the vines, observe the budding to harvest stages and even blend their own wine.
"Tours have changed quite a bit in the last year or so as we continue to involve more and more things in the tours instead of just a walk through the facility or something like that," Pilgrim said.
In addition to wine, orchards and farms are also offering more pick your own experiences and educational opportunities.
Many of them will be opening for the season in the next few weeks.