Booming Wine Industry will Significantly Impact Economy in Coming Years

<p>Wine Tasting</p>

Wine Tasting

In the last 15 to 20 years, the wine industry in the state has been booming.

Numbers in acreage for vineyeards, production, jobs and wineries are skyrocketing; that will lead to a major impact on our economy in coming years, according to a recent study. 

It's as simple as supply and demand.

More people want wine produced here in the state, so therefore more of it needs to be made, by more people, on more land.

A recent study conducted by Washington State Grape and Wine Industry Education Consortium estimates how much all these aspects will increase in the future based on growth in the past.

Let's start with jobs: It's predicted that up to 6,000 new wine-related jobs will be created here in the state by 2018.

Keith Pilgrim, owner of Terra Blanca Winery, said two new new full-time positions were added at his winery this year and that number is only going up.

"We continue to add staff as we need to, we just added a new marketing coordinator that started about a month ago and a new northwest sales rep started Monday," said Pilgrim. 

In 1980 there were 20 wineries statewide, and now there's nearly 800, including several hundred in our area from Yakima through the Tri-Cities to Walla Walla.

All of them need room to grow their grapes and that is where the increase in acreage comes in.

There are about 50,000 acres of vineyards statewide and the study predicts that number will increase to 65,000 in the next four years.

Abbey Cameron of the Walter Clore Center said that increase is visible here locally.

"Especially here in eastern Washington, there are some major purchases of land and you see them going up and down Route 82 that it's being planted and being put under vineyard very quickly," said Cameron. 

The center showcases wines from across the state including a special section dedicated to wine made by students.

The study predicts there will be nearly 1,500 wineries by 2018; meaning there will be a higher demand for those educated in the field of Viticulture and Enology.

"It's not a boutique-cottage industry anymore handed down father to son, people have the opportunity to go out and learn the science and earn a degree and go out and find jobs in that field," said Cameron.