Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taste Washington

The big Taste Washington was this weekend in Seattle. This is the biggest wine event in the state. I hope it went well for all involved. Why wasn't I there? If Quiceda Creek and Leonetti don't go, why should I?

Bonair Winery has attended this event for years, from its inception at the old Paramount Theater. From a promotional point of view, it never had any value for our winery. I was looking at the list of over 200 (I didn't count them) wineries and all are trying to push $20+ bottles of wine in a market that buys Three-buck Chuck at Trader Joes.

The event used to be free for wineries, I would attend because they had a great oyster bar and I love oysters on the half shell. They limited us to three wines and asked us to bring two cases of each. So for a while I lugged six cases from the parking lot into the hall and placed them under the table. I poured one bottle of white and two bottles of red and lugged five cases, 9 bottles back to the car. I thought trading three bottles of ten-dollar wine for an unlimited oyster bar was a good deal. The last time I went, I showed up with a mixed case and took nine bottles back to the car. That was a lot easier, but the oyster bar wasn't as good - no European flats.

They used to have a pre-event for the trade. (Maybe they still do. I didn't even read the literature they emailed me.) Supposedly, this was for sommeliers, wine shop owners, and buyers for QFC. This was a joke because the trade didn't care, so they gave their tickets to friends so they could get in free. There was actually less interest in the wines during this pre-session than during the public session where people actually shelled out $75 per person to get in. These people were there for the free food and booze courtesy their friends with connections.

The last time I went, Steve Burns was still the head of the Washington Wine Commission. He placed all of the Walla wineries in one location and the Yakima Valley wineries in another. Because Steve had so effectively marketed Walla, the people flocked to that area. Those poor wineries poured out of their six cases of $80 wine in no time. (They were not happy about that! $5760 in free wine.) Then people wandered over just looking for booze. I spent the afternoon with this conversation (I kid you not).

Person, "Bonair, I've never heard of you. Are you new?"

Grumpy, "Well, that's relative. In Europe wineries are hundreds of years old. This is our 25th anniversary. We started in 1985. We were the 29th winery in Washington. We are one of the oldest wineries in the state, but from a world view, yes, we are new. Have you been living under a rock or are you just stupid? You know, Ron White says you can't fix stupid." (Actually, they had been reading press releases from the Wine Commission or articles written from those press releases which don't acknowledge Zillah exists, so I should be more forgiving of their ignorance.)

Person, "Where are you located?"

Grumpy, "We are in Zillah Zillah." (I thought doubling it would emphasize the meaning, maybe making it magic like Walla Walla.)

Person, "I've never heard of Zillah. Where is that?"

Grumpy, "On your way to Walla, Buttbreath. You drive right past it. It's about halfway between Walla and Seattle on Interstate 82. Two hours and fifteen minutes from Issaquah. Have you heard of Issaquah?"

Person, "I'll look for your wines in the grocery store." (on a cold day in Hell) That makes me feel really good since (at that time) we only sold in a few wine shops and at the winery. I hate condescending people.

Grumpy, "Yeah, right! Don't look too hard. You might strain your eyes."

As a tracking incentive, I gave out discount coupons for any wine purchased at the winery. None were ever redeemed. Note to wineries: Always give out tracking cookies at promotional events! See if they really work for you. Give big ones like buy one bottle and get a second of equal value or less for free. Don't worry, it won't cost you a dime.

Now it costs $175 to $225 for wineries to attend. If 2000 people attend, that is ten persons per winery. Divide $225 by ten and you get $22.50 for each person who has the above inane conversation with you. Per person, this is really expensive advertising.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wine Writers for Local Newspapers are Shills

Back in the old days when the Washington Wine Commission still brought people to Yakima, I had dinner at Birchfield Manor with a bunch of wine writers accompanied by Simon Seigl, who was head of the Wine Commission at the time. I sat across the table from the writer from the San Francisco Chronicle. I'm sorry, I wasn't impressed enough to remember the gentleman's name. I just remember that his wife and I had a nice conversation after he became inebriated and his face fell into his half-finished plate of food. This was circa 1988.

Before he crashed and burned into his food he informed me that he wasn't interested in any wines that were not available in the Bay Area. I have heard this line a lot from local/regional wine writers. It's not my job to tell you what's new and exciting, I just report on what schlock the distributors give me.

If you are not out to find something 'new' for your 'news' paper, then why do you exist? Maybe this explains part of the demise of the newspaper business overall. Newspapers have an attitude that it is not their job to find news, just to cut and past stuff from the wire service and print a fish wrapper. They regurgitate (or fall into) what other people feed them

So if this guy wasn't interested in the wines he was tasting on the tour, why was he even here? Ah yes, the free vacation. In the business we call them fam (from familiarization) tours. Perks of the business. Like the Parker boys trip to Argentina.

These writers are shills of the distributors. The distributor finds wines he is interested in selling, then he gives free samples to the wine column guy and he pumps up the crap the distributor wants to sell. No wonder the wine selection sucks in many parts of the country. Instead of the wine writer telling the consumer of new and interesting wines he/she discovered on his/her fam tour (read free vacation), causing the distributor to go and seek new and interesting wines, the columnist merely rubber stamps the distributor's selections. The article comes out like this:

"My friend, Bob, from Big Brand Wine and Spirits has just brought in some new and exciting wines from the San Joaquin Valley in California. Mind you, these are not new wineries, but just new labels from the Callo Brothers. I particularly like the Cesspool Creek Chabis. It has hints of urine with dog vomit on the finish. 95……"

I sure wish I could remember that guy's name.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wineries and Return on Investment or ROI

Why are there so many wineries for sale (very secretly I guess - I can't find them on the internet - certainly no multiple listing - 111 in Napa and Sonoma and not so much as a hint on the internet)? It might be that wineries have a very poor ROI and are just waiting for a sucker to show up on the front doorstep with a suitcase full of cash.

How do you figure ROI. It is really simple, although brokers and real estate agents want you to think it is very complex. Simple take your gross income, subtract your expenses and you have gross profits. Gross profits should be7% of the value of the business for a good investment. It helps pay the mortgage if you have to take out a loan to buy a winery.

Here is the problem. A fictional winery has land, buildings, and equipment worth two million dollars, but a typical winery of that size may only return $100,000 per year gross profits. That means that the ROI for that winery is only 5%, so working the equation backward, the selling value of the winery is $1,428,571. How many winery owners want to sell their winery for $575,000 less than the equipment and land are worth.

The second problem is that if the winery has been in business for years, the value of the equipment, although depreciated to zero (the real estate guys will say it has no value because it is depreciated), may be worth more now than when purchased because the price of stainless steel has increased dramatically and the US Peso has fallen against the Euro. This means that the junk value may exceed the ROI value. In other words, if the winery owner wants to retire, it might be more beneficial to sell off inventory and equipment and simply go out of business. Then the land can be sold simply as real estate. We may see a lot of wineries just 'going out of business.' It beats the hell out of dying in a tank.

The third and really final problem is with the family winery. The investment is two million, and the return is $100,000. The winemaker and his wife live quite nicely on this money, although it is not nearly as much as they would have made had they stayed in the city working two jobs. The life style is great and you can hobnob with the rich and famous even though you are neither. But wait, the husband and wife work full-time managing the winery and making the wine. A professional manager at $50,000 a year and a winemaker at $50,000 a year make the ROI for the winery zero. The family winery has no investment value at all! Most family wineries are worthless! Overpriced real estate with a built-in headache.

Psst. Does anyone want to buy a winery? It's secretly for sale. Contact me, but I guarantee you it won't be sold for ROI. You need more dollars than sense to buy a winery.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why we don't enter competitions anymore

We have received these invitations since 9/09.

  • 2010 Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition (Always won by a California Sauv Blanc)
  • Grand Harvest Competition (Where does this get published?)
  • Retrospective of Northwest Wines competition (The 10 second taste test.)
  • Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (the winner sold out in 3 days -all 3 cases.)
  • German International Wine Competition (Achtung!)
  • Mondial du Rosé (I don't speak Frog.)
  • BTI Chicago NOW REVIEWING All Rosé, Pinot Noir, Zin, & More! (Have you ever bought a wine they rated?)
  • Enter the world of the best Merlot (Why?)
  • Seattle Wine Awards (I never enter anything in Seattle. It is so predictable. I can win Gold in California but nothing on the same wine in Seattle. Probably the mold from all the rain.)


 

And to top it off, the competition season is just getting underway. San Francisco Chronicle, LA, Orange, and S. Berdoo County Fairs, San Diego, Long Beach, Indy International. Washington Wine Competition, Dallas Morning News, Le Monde du Chardonnay, etc. etc. etc.

Bonair Winery has a page full of awards. Has any of these awards sold any wine. Not to my knowledge. At the tasting room, wine sells on taste and price. In the supermarket, wine sells on label and price. Everybody and their dog has awards.

I know a winery that enters every contest available in the world. Then they place stickers on the bottles for all the awards the wine has won. The bottles are covered with stickers. Does this sell wine? Maybe it works for them. I say screw it. It isn't worth the time or money.

Each of those tin (actually they are pot metal) medals, and I have drawers full of them, costs about $100. $75 for the entry fee, and $25 for shipping plus the cost of giving away free wine - usually 3 or 4 bottles. Over the past few years, the number of competitions has exploded. Everybody wants your entry fee and free wine. Who cares if you got a medal at the Paducah County Fair?

I get jackasses coming into the tasting room saying, "I only want to taste your award winning wines." Well, jackass, none of our current releases are awarded. I can get an award on any wine I make (Bonair wines usually score about 80% awards, usually bronze and silver, but an occasional gold.) All I have to do is enter enough contests and not tell you about the ones I didn't win. So why don't you just try the wine and if you like it, buy it Butthead. Awards don't mean merde (excuse my French.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vinopedia

Whose brainfart is this? I opened it to a page "Subregions in Washington Producers that make wines with designation Washington". According to them, Bonair Winery makes 30 wines, only four of which are designated Washington. (I don't think we make 30 wines, but we have had 30 different labels for wines.) Do these people think we import grapes from the late great state of California? Don't they know that wineries have a choice when placing an AVA on the label, either a geographic designation such as a political entity (state or county) or an actual TTB approved AVA?

On further investigation, I think I figured out what these two guys are doing. They sent out search engine bots to websites and collected a lot of data. Data are good when interpreted correctly, but these guys are European and don't quite understand the American system of labeling the origin of wine. In Europe, wine labeling is strictly controlled by the government. In America it is a marketing decision made by the wineries.

As a winery, we can use the largest region (American) or the smallest region that the wine qualifies for. "Washington" appears on bottles for marketing reason for sales outside the state. The grapes can come from somewhere in the state . Ste. Michelle uses the Columbia Valley designation because production comes from several subregions, but all from the Columbia Valley AVA. They think 'Washington' implies DC or soggy Seattle. The subregions of the Columbia Valley have subregions also. (For people who don't get out often, think North Coast, Napa Valley, Rutherford) It amuses me that some wineries in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA (a warm AVA known for big reds) insist on using the Yakima Valley AVA (known for cool weather whites) on their Cabernets for more prestige. When I see Yakima Valley on a Bordeaux variety, I think vegetative - unless it is from a really warm year like 2003.

One of the problems with the Columbia Valley, the Walla Walla Valley, and the Columbia Gorge. is that they are cross-state appellations. Both dip into Eastern Oregon. So, I guess you can't be assured that a wine is from Washington if it is labeled Columbia Valley. If it is labeled Yakima Valley, Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain, Wahluke Slope, or Horse Heaven Hills, you can rest assured the grapes were grown in Washington even though it doesn't say Washington on the bottle. The real question is, who cares if the grapes were grown on the Oregon side of the AVA?

Other information on the site is wrong, for example the breakdown of reds vs. whites. I get the USDA reports and white production still outpaces red in Washington State. Chardonnay is still the most widely planted grape in the state, contrary to their graph. But again, their interpretation of the data is incorrect because they don't have a complete set. The USDA publishes this data each year. I have posted it on my website if you are having trouble sleeping.

For the record, Bonair Winery now uses only two AVA designations. The less expensive wines use the Yakima Valley AVA and our barrel-select, vineyard-designated, estate-bottled wines use the Rattlesnake Hills AVA.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

If Bloggers Want to be taken Seriously, they should get serious.

Here is a post from January 3, 2010.

2003 Bonair Cabernet Sauvignon

marward 86/100

"Pretty harsh / alcohol on the nose. Overall, it was kind of blah, definitely not as good as we'd expected or remember. Note: after opening the bottle, we read on the label that this wine is meant to age 7 years. I'd be interested if anyone has done this with the Bonair wines."

Okay, Marward never gives anything over 92 and does go below 80, so 86 is pretty good. I could give a rip on the number.

If bloggers want to be taken seriously about wine evaluations, they need to get some facts first

The first fact that is missing is what is the wine? In 2003, Bonair Winery made five cabernet Sauvignons. 1) the Morrison Vineyard, Yakima Valley. 2)the Yakima Valley (no vineyard), 3)Washington State (1.5 liter bottles.) 4)Chateau Puryear Reserve Washington State, and 5)Columbia Valley. So, we don't know which wine it is that Marward is speaking. Wow, that really helps a lot.

Lesson one for Bloggers: State all information on the bottle, including the vintage date (if any), a vineyard designation (if any) and the appellation, be it Rattlesnake Hills, Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, or Washington State. Not all wineries make just one wine per varietal.

Marward says the wine is alcoholic. Does Marward know that 2003 was the warmest year in the history of grape growing in Eastern Washington? This is probably an accurate assessment.

Lesson two for Bloggers: Know the history of the wines. 2003 was a great year for real "Yakima Valley Cabs" (the ones from Prosser Flats) because they had enough heat to burn out the vegetal flavors. Red Mountain and Rattlesnake Hills were very warm and high in alcohol.

Does anyone age Bonair Wines for seven years? Yes, I have a few customers who do, and I do at the winery. I drink a lot of Bonair Cabs that are over 12 years old.

Lesson three for Bloggers: Ask the winery questions. We all have emails and most answer promptly - unless you are asking for free wine, then MailWasher takes care of you.

Cork'd website makes you list wines by price using $. Nowhere could I find the significance of the $. The wine in question is $$ out of $$$$. What in the hell does that mean?

Lesson four for Bloggers: State the price you paid for the wine or at least make it easy to figure out what your cute little $ means. It would be nice to know if you are rating our barrel select wines or our tank-fermented, oak-chipped wines.

Lesson five for Bloggers: Be current. I'm not even sure the winery has any of the 2003 in question (since we don't really know what wine we are talking about.) If you gave it a 100, no one could buy it, so thanks for the history, but who cares what you are drinking from your private cellar. If you want to talk about old wine, find a site that does that.

Lesson six for Bloggers: Post your profile. Frankly, if I don't know who you are, what you like, what is your experience with wine, and where you are coming from, it is totally meaningless.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No wine should cost more than $39.88.

Fred Franzia stirred up a ruckus when he said no wine should cost more than $10. I am going to disagree with Fred. No wine should cost more than $40. Here is my reasoning.

Wineries pay $180 per ton for grapes grown in the San Joaquin Valley of California - California's largest growing area. The grapes are machine pruned and machine picked. Growers there get yields of 14 tons to the acre for a return of $2520 per acre. This is a fair return for this land which is mechanically mega-farmed in huge blocks. (San Joaquin Valley farmers measure the size of their farms in sections, not acres.) On the other side, grapes from the Napa Valley can fetch $4000 per ton. They are hand pruned and hand picked. Since production is often limited to two tons per acre, return per acre is $8000 for some pricey real estate. Cost of grapes per bottle: San Joaquin Valley $0.24, Napa Valley $5.33.

Cheap Chinese glass (lead may or may not be optional) costs $0.12 per bottle. Good European glass, the heavy landfill-special kind Bobby Parker likes, is $2.00 per bottle.

Good technical corks run about $.05. You can probably get straight agglomerated corks for $0.03. A two-inch number-one cork is about $0.77.

A PVC heat-shrink foil is around $.03 - maybe less by the millions. A good tin foil can run $0.23 from a top supplier.

Labels depend on quantity per run, but a cheap label, no foil, no embossing can be less than $0.03. That Woodinville label in a small-run with foil and embossing might be $0.78 or even $1.00 front and back.

There will be no cost for barrels in the cheap wine, but in the expensive wine in 100% new French oak, the way Bobby P. likes it, the barrel cost will be $4.28. Yes, you are drinking $4.28 of oak juice. I hope you like 2X4's.

Tax will be about the same for both wines, since the large producer will not get the small-producer credit and the small producer will go over 14% alcohol for the Wine Expectorator rating, so it is about $0.23 for each.

So the cost of the San Joaquin Valley non-vintage California schlock will be $0.68 per bottle and the cost of the Walla ultra-premium, hand-crafted, award-winning small-lot, high-alcohol (please hyphenate this BS on you promotional literature for proper grammar) fruit-bomb Washington Red Table Wine will be $13.64.

The winery has to make a minimum markup of 50% or 1.43. The Bakersfield wonder needs to fetch the winery $0.98. The ultra-hyphenated small-lot cab has to bring $19.50.

Standard distributor markup is 143%, so the San Joaquin Valley Hardly Burgundy goes to the retailer at $1.40 and the Napa Valley blah-blah-blah goes to the retailer at $27.89.

Standard retail markup is also 143%, so the San Joaquin wine hits the shelf at $1.99 or Two-Up Chuck. That's how they do it. The Parkerized wine in the landfill-special bottle hits the shelf at $39.88. Everybody deserves a fair profit for their efforts.

Is Fred Franzia making money on Two Buck Chuck at $0.98 per bottle? You bet he is. He is making full markup of $0.30 per bottle or $3.6 million per one million cases. Is the boutique winery making money on the $40 wine? You say, it looks like they make $5.88 per bottle or $70,523 per 1000 cases. (Let's make 2000 cases next year and double our profits!)

There is just one problem. $40 bottles of wine are not selling. It looks like they are rich sitting on $480,000 of inventory. Anyone want to buy a boutique winery? Inventory not included in the sale price.

If this doesn't convince you not to turn your garage into a winery, nothing will.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Old Vintners Night

Whistlin' Jack Lodge hosts Vintners Appreciation Night each year in March. This year's event was held last Wednesday. It's a time when all the old winemakers can get together and reminisce. This year I sat with Leland and Linda Hyatt, Hyatt Vineyards Winery, John and Ann Williams, Kiona Winery, Paul and Marilyn Portteus, Portteus Winery, and Chuck and Claudia Fiola, Konnowak Vineyard, growers of fine Bordeaux varieties in the Rattlesnake Hills since 1983. The Prestons, Preston Winery, Randy Tucker, Tucker Cellars, and Scott Pontin, Pontin del Roza were there also. It amazes me that the Washington wine industry, which is so new, has forgotten its roots. Missing were John Rauner, Yakima River Winery and Mike Wallace, Hinzerling Winery. I wish they could have attended. They were dearly missed.

I learned that Mike Wallace, John Williams, Randy Tucker, and John Rauner got together back in 1981 to put together (with the help of Helen Willard, partner in Quail Run Winery) the petition to establish the Yakima Valley AVA, Washington's first AVA. They also formed the Yakima Valley Winegrowers Association. Bonair Winery was the 14th member to join in 1986. It was dissolved in 2005 when Steve Burns from the Washington Wine Commission got involved. Two competing organizations emerged, the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail and Wine Yakima Valley.

I learned something else. Most people don't know that Hogue Cellars made their first wines at Tucker Cellars. So many stories that have never been told. It makes me grumpy.

As usual, the party was excellent and the food outstanding - which it always is a Whistlin' Jack Lodge. (No, you won't read about it in the Wine Expectorator because the Wine Commission doesn't promote that part of the state. If it doesn't begin with W it ain't Washington Wine. X,Y(akima), and Z(illah) be damned.) The wine list is predominantly local from older established wineries in the Yakima Valley. What a concept. A great local restaurant with a local wine list. Blasphemy!

The next day, Shirley and I went skiing at White Pass. White pass is the local ski resort where the winemakers all have season passes. They have a high-speed quad, a quad, and two double chairs. They have a great day lodge that serves local wines (Blasphemy! I want California Chabbless!) and microbrews (they do have Bug Light on tap for people who don't drink beer). They also have a mid-mountain yurt. Next year they will double the size of the resort by opening Hogback Basin and a new mid-mountain lodge. The winemakers own private ski area!

We skied with Paul Portteus and John and Ann Williams. John used to be on the ski patrol, but is now retired, but his son Scott Williams still makes wine and patrols the slopes.

Back in the old days, all the winery owners knew each other personally. We all attended everything we could because there were so few of us and only a few main events. Many times I remember standing next to Jerry Bookwalter, Bookwalter Winery, and Mike Moore, Blackwood Canyon. Bonair Winery was alphabetically in the middle.

Those days are long gone. Even after 25 years in the state, most people have not heard of Bonair Winery. (Watch the video.) A lot of the thanks goes to Steve Burns and the Washington Wine Commission. Steve hated the Yakima Valley. It just didn't fit into his concept of what wine country should look like, e.g. the Napa Valley. He actually chartered airplanes (using our money) to fly people to Walla (which has some trees on the hills kind of like the Napa Valley) so they wouldn't have to look at the Yakima Valley. To this date, the Wine Commission arrives from the east, either Pasco or Walla and the furthest they venture into the Yakima Valley is Prosser, often stopping sooner in Red Mountain.

There are so many stories in the Washington wine industry, but the Wine Commission is so disconnected that these stories never are told. Stay tuned, I'm going to tell them and some people aren't going to be happy!

We can still be Friends

Does guerrilla marketing have a place in wine tourism? Back when we started Bonair Winery in 1985 there were fewer than 40 wineries in the state. We were the fourteenth winery to join the Yakima Valley Wine Growers. Those days are long gone. Now there are over 600 wineries in the state. We keep hearing the same old story from the Wine Commission,. "We must work together to promote wine tourism for the good of the state." In a larger sense this is true, although the Wine Commission doesn't think wine tourism is part of its mandate. But, the growth in the number of wineries has outpaced the growth in the number of wine tourists. Visits to wineries are down and attendance at events is down, not just because of the economic downturn, but also because of the saturation of wineries. Eventually, I think every garage in the state will be bonded.

The typical wine tourist can visit four or five wineries in a given day - probably no more than ten in a weekend. The Wine Commission represents all 600 wineries in the state, so the chances of them sending me a visitor is one in sixty. I wouldn't buy a lottery ticket with those odds. (Well, maybe I would. I think that is better odds than the Washington State Lotto.)

Wine Yakima Valley represents about 50 wineries, so the odds of being selected become one in five on a given weekend. The problem with Wine Yakima Valley is, they cover a wide geographic area from Naches to the Tri Cities. This wine tour is 100 miles long.

Bonair Winery belongs to the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail which requires its members to be no more than two miles from the AVA border. All 17 member wineries are within 20 miles of each other. I like to compare it to shooting starlings on a wire above the vineyard. If they are close - which starlings usually are - I can get five with one shot. If there are 600 starlings on the wire, I will kill 1 out of 120. The rest will fly away. If there are only 15 starlings on the wire, I will kill one in three, pretty good odds of getting hit.

How does this relate to guerrilla marketing? Since the number of wineries has outpaced the number of wine tourists, the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail resorted to 'unfair' (as one of our non-members said) marketing practices. (Note: All wineries were invited to join at the formation of the Wine Trail.)

For those of you who don't understand the concept; 'unfair' and 'marketing' don't belong in the same sentence. Think of the recent spat between AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Verizon showed a map of their 3G coverage compared to AT&T's 3G coverage. AT&T said the map was 'unfair' advertising because it made it look like AT&T didn't have coverage in most of the US; which it does, just not 3G. A judge decided that 'unfair' and 'advertising' don't belong in the same sentence. The idea is to gain market share against the competition anyway that is legal.

What were the 'unfair' marketing moves made by the Wine Trail? First, we came up with a passport that gave benefits and prizes for visiting 10 of our then 15 members. This encouraged visitors to stay in the area and only visit member wineries in the Rattlesnake HIlls. Secondly, the Wine Trail formed an alliance with the three local cities and formed a Tourist Trail to keep people in the area and promote tourism in the cities as well. Maps were erected in the cities and only member wineries were on the maps because the maps carried the Rattlesnake Hills logo. All hell broke loose. But if you choose not to join an organization, why would you expect them to promote you on a map with their logo?

The Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail has as its main objective to bring people to our tasting rooms. Our brochures are available all over the state on ferries and at freeway rest stops. We work closely with the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau to promote tourism in the region. The visitors center sells our passports in a mutual agreement that helps both organizations. Since some of our member wineries do not produce wines from Rattlesnake Hills grapes, we do not market the AVA as a growing region.

I may be a curmudgeon, but I'll work with you if you have a plan to increase tourism overall, but I am in the wine and tourist business. To stay in business, I need to succeed. To succeed, I might eat your lunch or try to take more than my share of the pie. Is that fair? No, it's business.