Wineries Get Big Neighbor On Red Mountain - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wineries Get Big Neighbor On Red Mountain

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This past weekend at a KID land auction one high bidder bought 670 acres of land for over 8 million dollars. This past weekend at a KID land auction one high bidder bought 670 acres of land for over 8 million dollars.

BENTON CITY, WA - NBC Right Now has more questions about big changes coming to Red Mountain and the entire local wine industry. This past weekend at a KID land auction one high bidder bought 670 acres of land for over 8 million dollars.

This was somewhat of a let down for local winery owners. The mood during the auction was exciting. Dozens of new wineries could be popping up locally. Red Mountain could become it's own little wine village with hundreds of varieties of wines. That could all still happen, but the fate of all the land is now in the hands of one group.

"The hope was that we get another 10-15 wineries on Red Mountain. Not just one large corporate investor and so there's some disappointment right now," explained Stacie Hamilton who owns Hamilton Cellars with her husband.

There are only about a dozen wineries up on the mountain currently. The auction was an opportunity to more than double the amount of growers and producers, but in the end only one company took home the entire prize.

"They became interested and showed an interest about a month ago," said Scott Musser of Musser Brothers Auctions about the Aquilini Group. "They've been down and looked at the properties and came and ultimately were the high bidders at the auction."

That is just the way it works. The highest bidder takes the prize. But the Aquilini group is no small business.

"They're very large land owners. They own the Vancouver Canucks, they apparently own a lot of office buildings and have real estate holdings. They have a large dairy just up in Sunnyside," said Musser.

The wineries are not scared of big business. They think it could still draw more people to the mountain who will stick around and visit their places as well. Although a large winery would completely change the way the mountain has operated.

"Not that we don't want one big participant, but it's pretty much a small neighborhood up there and we're pretty close and we want to kind of maintain the non-corporate environment we have," said Hamilton.

In a recent statement the Aquilini Group said they plan to develop the land. Auctioniers tell us that Luigi Aquilini is a fan of agricultural property and wine. His neighbors are just waiting to see how he moves forward.

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