A Rift Forming Between Wineries near Zillah over Marketing Group
ZILLAH, Wa - Some wineries in the Rattlesnake Hills near Zillah have formed their own marketing group -- separate from Wine Yakima Valley.
They want to market their specific area to tourists who go wine tasting. Not all the wineries in the Rattlesnake Hills have decided to join.
Some wineries in the area that don't belong to the group have taken issue with their marketing strategies.
The idea to form the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail first took root about two years ago. The owners of Bonair Winery were starting to pursue an AVA for the Rattlesnake Hills at the time.
"The purpose of Rattlesnake Hills Trail is to bring tourists to our wineries. We want them to come out to wine country itself," says Shirley Puryear, one of the owners of Bonair Winery.
The wineries in this group made up brochures with maps that only include their wineries, or the ones that decided to join. All wineries in the Rattlesnake Hills were asked to join. The brochures are given out to tourists who visit these wineries.
David Lowe, one of the owners of Wine Glass Cellars, says it's confusing to tourists. "When they come here, the question is always why aren't you on the map," says Lowe.
Things boiled over when the cities of Wapato, Toppenish, Zillah and Granger wanted to build signs to promote tourism in their area. They wanted to use the logo for the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail. The wineries in the group agreed, if their wineries got exclusive billing on the signs.
The cities were looking into getting matching funds from the county to help pay for the signs. This rubbed the wineries that were not a part of the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail the wrong way. "It's troubling to me because they were trying to use state money. They should promote whole region if they are going to use that money," says Lowe.
The county did not give any matching funds for the signs. They were paid for by the cities.
Shirley Puryear says the idea was never to create animosity, just a marketing group that targeted their needs, specifically. "It's just a difference emphasis. We're emphasizing tourism in Rattlesnake Hills," she says.
Ten wineries that belong to the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail also belong to Wine Yakima Valley. Bonair Winery doesn't belong, but it's listed as a grower.