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Wine Down in Washington

Update on the Port's COVID-19 response Learn more.

September 4, 2020

Just in case you missed it, August was Washington State Wine Month. Fear not, it’s never too late to celebrate the wine country gem we have (almost) under our noses in Walla Walla. 

After a nationwide public vote, readers of USA Today voted the Walla Walla Valley as America’s Best Wine Region in the 2020 USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice awards. The region has been nominated for this award for the last three years but 2020 is the first time the region has been awarded the top distinction. 

Walla Walla is home to more than 120 wineries, a nationally recognized culinary scene, access to an abundance of outdoor recreation, and an arts and entertainment scene that rivals cities many times its size. This community of just over 30,000 residents is known for its friendliness and hospitality, the quality of its wine, and of course the famous Walla Walla Sweet Onion. An easy and scenic four-hour drive from the Seattle-Tacoma area, Walla Walla can also be accessed via Alaska Airlines flights from SEA Airport. 

Here are five great ideas to explore wine country from the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance:

1.    Experience the Best 

Visit Long Shadows Vintners, which took fourth place in USA Today’s Best Tasting Room category for the second consecutive year.  They have special events and virtual tastings through the end of the year.

2.    Tour du Vin

Take a wine tour with a designated driver and tour guide who can help you explore the region’s wines safely.

3.    Virtual Viniculture

If we can work out online, why not exercise your palate via virtual wine tasting? Several wineries are offering virtual wine and book clubs through October. Others have virtual happy hours and previously recorded video wine tastings on Facebook live. And they’re even hosting private virtual tastings where you receive a wine shipment, then meet friends over via FaceTime or Skype!

4.    Show Up for a Special Event

Events will be happening through the holidays and the spring of 2021. For example:

5.    Bring Walla Walla to You 

Many wineries offer specials on shipping wines directly to you.

Staying safe during COVID-19

The region and its businesses are focused on keeping visitors safe during the pandemic, including limited occupancy, physical distancing, and wearing face coverings. 

Wheat fields and winery building

Supporting state tourism

The Port of Seattle supports Washington State tourism with several programs because it’s a vital and significant segment of King County and Washington state's economy. COVID-19 has acutely damaged employment in Washington State's travel sector.

  • Through the end of April 2020, job losses within the leisure and hospitality sector represented 42 percent of all job losses in the state
  • From March 1 through May 23, hotel room revenue declined by 72 percent
  • For the week ending June 28, 2020, traffic at SEA International Airport averaged 15,500 passengers through TSA (a 75 percent reduction over 2019)

Tourism Recovery Initiative

In July 2020, the Port Commission approved the Tourism Recovery Initiative, and a partnership with the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA), the official destination marketing organization for Washington State. Funding will kick off a multifaceted statewide marketing program to positively impact the state and the Port's travel assets, bring important travel service and hospitality jobs back, and help lift this important sector of Washington State's economy out of the doldrums. 

Tourism Marketing Support Program

Through this program, Walla Walla has received matching funds awards several years in a row:

  • 2017:  $10,000 for digital advertising and social media campaigns in Denver, Sacramento, and Phoenix to generate interest and increase travelers to SEA Airport and Walla Walla
  • 2016:  $6,000 for digital advertising campaigns in Denver, Sacramento, or Phoenix to generate interest and awareness and increase travelers to the Pacific Northwest 

The next application cycle kicks off in December 2020. Learn more

Spotlight SEA Airport Advertising Program

Since 2017, the Port has reserved 10 percent of the available advertising space at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to advertise state destinations and events on signs throughout the airport concourses and baggage claim. The Port covers the cost of reserving the advertising, and awardees pay for production, installation, and taxes.

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