Wine Industry of Yakima Valley...
In 1917, William B. Bridgeman, a Seattle attorney and two-time mayor of Sunnyside, planted the first vinifera grapes on Snipes Mountain. During Prohibition, he saw an increased demand for wine grapes for use by home winemakers. By 1934 he had over 165 acres of wine grapes under contract and he was prompted to open Upland Winery, which was the first to commercially make European-style wine in Washington State. Also, in 1917, a 200-acre plot near the city of Prosser was designated as an agricultural research site. In 1937 this facility hired Dr. Walter Clore, who planted many of the grape varieties that proved vital to the state’s wine industry. Today’s Yakima Valley wine landscape likely emerged in 1962 when Associated Vintners purchased 5.5 acres near Sunnyside, which became Harrison Hill Vineyard, now farmed by the Newhouse Family for DeLille Cellars. More vineyards were planted in the early ‘70s. Mike Sauer planted his first three acres of Cabernet at Red Willow in 1973, and in 1975 John Williams and Jim Holmes started with a dozen acres at Kiona on Red Mountain. In March of 1983, the Yakima Valley appellation was officially designated by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. This was the American Viticulture Area (AVA) in Washington State. The Yakima Valley AVA now cultivates more than 17,000 first acres, and Yakima and Benton counties are home to more than 152 wineries.
The Yakima Enological Society (YES) was established in 1976. We are a 501 c(3) non-profit that since 2003, we have been awarding grants to various schools that teach and offer training for careers in the wine industry. We have awarded over $110,000 to the Enology and Viticulture programs at the Yakima Valley College in Grandview, Washington State University in the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla Community College, and Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. Our purpose is to “foster interest in and appreciation of viticulture, enology, and proper use of wine.
Our vision is for the Yakima Valley to have a greater understanding of the deep rooted wine culture amongst us.