Wine Wednesday: Learn about wine prices with Purple Star Winery - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wine Wednesday: Learn about wine prices with Purple Star Winery

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BENTON CITY, WA - Have you ever gone to a store or a restaurant, seen a few Cabernet or Merlot options, and don't know what the differences are between them?

You see that some are more expensive, some are less expensive, but you don't really know what the differences are.

Reporter Rex Carlin takes us to one local winery to find out what this all means.

Kyle and Amy Johnson own and operate Purple Star Winery in Benton City, just across the Yakima River from the famed Red Mountain, one of the trendiest growing regions in the northwest.

"You're going to get the best value for yourself here in Washington state buying local, because there's no transportation costs," said Amy Johnson. "And Washington wine value compared to like Napa or other different regions in France, the importing tax, you're going to get a better wine for lower price point drinking local."  

But even with the knowledge that the closer the wine, the better the price point probably get for it, the question of what makes one wine more expensive than the other isn't totally answered.

For example, Kyle Johnson makes three different Syrah's; same winery, same grape, three completely different prices. How can this be?

"Our Purple Star regular line is a blend of several different vineyards in the Columbia Valley," Kyle told us. "Much of it is farmed a little heavier, thus the cost is lower. Next one, little more specific. Single vineyard, Yakima Valley vineyard. Spending more time in new French oak, longer in barrel, so hence, more cost."

And the most expensive Syrah they have?

"Red Mountain AVA, smaller AVA, demand is higher so fruit cost is higher. They produce really phenomenal reds," said Amy.

Transportation is only one part of what drives price point, because when it comes to grape growing, location can and will trump other factors even if it is just across the river.

Rex spoke with some ladies coming through the area from Whidbey Island, who stopped to taste at Purple Star. They doubled as our Wine Wednesday panel of experts.

The consensus from the group is that there is an unfair stigma that comes with bottles of wine being priced more moderately than others.

"Sometimes we think 'Oh, well that's a cheaper bottle, it isn't as good.' and it may have to do with the process of producing it," one of the women said.

If we can't rely on price alone to dictate which Merlot is good or which cab is bad, then how can we accurately judge the quality of our local wines?

The panel of experts believes it has the answer.

"I think you need to go wine tasting. You need to go to wineries, different wineries and you need to taste them. Either that, or you're just going to become a wine drinker, not a wine appreciator," the women claimed.

The best way to learn about the local wine industry is to come out to the wineries themselves, learn their stories, and come out and taste these wines for yourself so you know what you like firsthand.

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