Record Wine Sales in Yakima Valley Mean More Money For Everyone

Record Wine Sales in Yakima Valley Mean More Money For Everyone
ZILLAH -- In a down economy the local wine industry is reaching new heights. 2010 set new records for both production and the price of grapes. KIMA discovered how wine is helping the Yakima Valley and Washington State avoid more cuts.

Paul Vandenberg has been watching grapes and the Washington wine industry grow for more than 40 years.

"The demand is still greater than the supply," said Vandenberg.

Much bigger than it used to be, the Yakima Valley is now the number one producer of red wine grapes in the state. There are about 9,000 acres dedicated to it. That's why Paul is planning to expand and he not alone.

In the past five years, the number of wineries has doubled, increasing the number of grapes produced by a third.

"Governments should love wine, and they do, because they tax the heck out of it," said Vandenberg.

In 2010 there was a record high of more than 160,000 tons of grapes and growers got record prices for them as well. On average $1,040 per ton, that’s $10 more than the previous record high in 2008. That made a lot of money for grape growers and the government.

But, what if you don't drink wine? Well, for every dollar sold in grapes, that's a couple more dollars in sales taxes. When they're being sold in the thousands, that's thousands of dollars for services that help you everyday like police and firefighters. During these tough economic times, more money for our budget is a good thing.

"I generate more money for the state of Washington in sales tax then I do in the price of grapes," said Vandenberg.

There's even more money coming from alcohol tax and all the other taxes growers have to pay. 99 percent of Peter's wine is sold locally at his tasting room in Zillah, so the money stays local and all the tax money that his wine generates stays in Washington State.

Making 2010 a good year for the wine industry, and 2011 a good year for our local city budgets with fewer services cut thanks to the wine lovers.

2011 isn't looking as good. Many buds were killed by the freezing temperatures in November. Wineries said you can already see the effects of that with raised prices on wine at the supermarkets.