KXLY.COM – The Spokane Region is home to more than 20 wineries, and Washington state, with more than 900 wineries, is now the second largest wine producing region in the U.S.
Rosemary Brasch manages Cougar Crests’ tasting room in downtown Spokane.
It’s in the heart of the Cork District, drawing tourists in as they explore the Lilac City.
“People go to the lake for the summer,” said Brasch. “But June, July, and August last year were some of our best months. And it was walking traffic…they were on their way to the convention center, and to Riverpark Square.”
According to Brasch, it’s a changing in Americans’ tastes that suddenly has everyone so interested.
“Wine is becoming a focus,” she said.
Wineries have a lot to offer, even to the novice consumer.
Just ask Arbor Crest Owner James Van Loben Sels.
“More consumers are just aware of wine and it’s acknowledged as something that’s fun to go do,” he said. “It’s not associated with over-consumption or a bar scene. So it’s a very different type of experience.”
His grapes have deep roots in Spokane.
“We’ve been here since the beginning,” he said. “We started out as a really small tasting room that held 10 people and now we have a full summer event program.”
James says it’s about time the world recognized Washington’s role in the wine industry.
“We are recognized as the top premium wine grape growing regions in the U.S. and that’s taken us 35 some odd years to get to that point.”
Last year, Washington wines contributed nearly $62 million to state taxes.
Wine-related tourism topped $193 million.