Study Showcases Yakima Valley AVA Impact on Washington's Wine In - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Study Showcases Yakima Valley AVA Impact on Washington's Wine Industry

Posted: Updated:

YAKIMA, WA --  The Yakima Valley is often referred to as the backbone of the Washington State wine industry. It was the first appellation to be established in Washington State and it remains the most significant as outlined in a new study released by the Washington State Wine Commission.

The Yakima Valley Appellation is located in both Yakima and Benton Counties and is home to over 30% of the state's vineyard acreage. The combined wine production of these two counties in 2014 was 9.5 million cases -- 61% of the state's total wine production.*

This region’s wine industry (wine production, tourism, and distribution) is responsible for more than 3,600 jobs, $151.7 million in labor income and generates business revenues exceeding $1.01 billion*.  “The Yakima Valley is a crucial player in the state’s wine industry,” says Steve Warner, president of Washington State Wine Commission, the government agency that represents all wineries and grape growers in Washington State. 

The Yakima Valley AVA, according to the study, is important to the industry due to its concentration (17,000 acres) of wine vineyards.  The Valley is home to many smaller, high end vineyards planted and managed specifically for acclaimed wineries throughout Washington State.  “Being close to the quality vineyards is the reason we added a winery and production facility in the Valley,” says David O’Reilly, owner and winemaker of Owen Roe Winery.

These vineyards are essential to the activities of communities throughout the state with high concentration of wineries but lacking in vineyards such as Woodinville.  Yakima Valley’s quality grapes are shipped to winemakers throughout the state—and across state lines, especially to Oregon. 

We caught up with some wineries today in Prosser, which is included in the Yakima Valley, to talk about the study. During our visit we talked with tourists visiting from Pennsylvania who came all the way to Washington for the wine. 

Kathy Paulo and Pat Simms are both retired and they love traveling the world tasting wine, "really, our hobby is visiting wine countries in different places". The two told us they have been to South America, Spain, Portugal, France, Australia and the list goes on, but their favorite place remains to be the same, "we still, we like Washington... I'm coming home to Washington wines every time". 

The winemaker at Coyote Canyon, Justin Michaud, said he is not surprised that Yakima Valley is leading the other AVAs. He is from Virginia and says he plans to stay for life because of the region, "I grew up in Virginia and so I'm kind of a transplant and after I got into the wine industry my family was like you should come back here and I was like you know I want to make like good wine".