Wine Country Taste and Tote Program Gets Media

On August 17th, Taste and Tote was launched, where visitors to Washington’s wine country can fly out on Alaska Airlines/Horizon with one properly packaged case of wine checked for free, plus have tasting fees waived at 130 wineries with a current boarding pass. Enterprise Rent-A-Car will also waive car drop-off fees for cars rented and returned within Washington wine country (Pasco/Tri Cities, Yakima or Walla Walla).

Since then there has been a lot of publicity on the program:

The Yakima Herald Republic ran a story on the program that was condensed and picked up by AP Wire Services. The AP version has been picked up by numerous outlets including the San Francisco Chronicle the Seattle PI  and Seattle Times online, The Olympian plus numerous TV and radio station websites across the USA.

The Yakima Herald Republic followed up with an editorial regarding the program on August 22nd.

USA Today reporter Ben Mutzabaugh blogged the Yakima Herald/AP story in his column Today in the Sky.

The Tri-City Herald ran a piece that was also picked up by the Tacoma News Tribune online.

Local TV and radio stations covered the news including KNDO TVKIMA TV,  KAPP TV and KIT Radio in Yakima.

And there have been a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter.

We’ll update this column as more stories come along. In the meantime, tell your friends and family to come fly Alaska/Horizon Air to Yakima and enjoy the great wines of the Yakima Valley!

For details on the program visit

Washington Wine Country Promotion Announced

Yakima, WA- (August 17, 2012)The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention BureauTourism Walla Walla  and Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau announce the launch of a new collaborative effort with Alaska Airlines and Enterprise Rent-A-Car to promote Washington Wine Country. Launching September 2012, Washington Wine Country Taste and Tote will make it easier and more affordable to taste and travel the Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities and Walla Walla Valley wine regions.

As part of this new partnership, Alaska Airlines will expand its existing wine check-in program “Taste and Tote” to the Yakima and Pasco/Tri-Cities airports.  Originating in the Walla Walla Valley in late 2011, this program allows outbound passengers to check their first case of wine free on their return flight. In addition, Enterprise Rent-A-Car will waive car drop-off fees for visitors flying on Alaska Airlines into Yakima, Pasco or Walla Walla regional airports who wish to fly out of one of the other two airports.

“The ‘Taste and Tote’ program has been a big success in Walla Walla and we feel our expansion to the Pasco and Yakima airports shows our dedication to being Washington Wine Country’s airline of choice,” said Clint Ostler, Alaska Airlines’ manager of retail advertising and sponsorships. “Washington State’s tourism and wine industries are so closely connected and we are committed to making it easier for travelers to visit our award-winning vineyards.”

Other features of the new program will allow travelers to sample wines at participating wineries and pay no tasting fees when they show a current Alaska Airlines boarding pass from one of the three airports.

“This is a great partnership for everyone involved, especially our visitors,” said John Cooper of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “This program gives travelers the opportunity to spend an extended vacation in Washington Wine Country and not pay extra during their stay, either in car rental, airline baggage or wine tasting fees.” The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau initiative the cooperative effort to expand the program beyond Walla Walla.

The majority of visitors to Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities region and Walla Walla Valley wineries come from the Seattle and Portland metropolitan areas. Organizers hope that with these added incentives, visitors from these destinations and others served by Alaska Airlines will utilize air service for their trip to Washington Wine Country. Additional details on the Taste and Tote promotion are available at

About Washington Wine Country

Founded in 2003, Washington Wine Country is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wine-related tourism by fostering collaborative regional partnerships throughout the wine growing region of Eastern Washington, where 98 percent of Washington State’s wine grapes are grown. For more information, visit

About Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines flies nonstop from Seattle to Walla Walla Regional Airport twice daily ; to Yakima Air Terminal three times daily ; and to the Pasco/Tri-Cities Airport five times daily. Starting Aug. 27, the carrier will begin new daily service between Pasco/Tri-Cities and Portland, Ore..  Connections can be made beyond Alaska’s Seattle and Portland hubs to destinations in Alaska, the lower 48, Mexico and Canada. To purchase tickets, visit or by calling 1-800-ALASKAAIR.

About Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Enterprise Holdings, through its regional subsidiaries, operates more than one million cars and trucks, the largest fleet of passenger vehicles in the world today. Enterprise Holdings is North America’s largest and most comprehensive service provider in the car rental industry, operating the Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental brands.

Proposed Interpretive Center Wins Federal Grant

Photo by Patty DiRienzo, all rights reserved

A Kittitas and Yakima County coalition on Thursday received nearly $800,000 in federal funding for an interpretive center to highlight the Yakima River Canyon.

The center will be established at the Helen McCabe State Park, just south of Ellensburg on State Route 821.

The highway, once the main connection between Yakima and Ellensburg before Interstate 82 was opened, was listed in 1968 as the state’s first scenic byway.

The funding for the interpretive center was awarded through the National Scenic Byway Program, part of the Federal Highway Administration.

Jill Scheffer, who wrote the grant application, said the interpretive center could become an anchor in an effort to capitalize on the canyon as a tourism and environmental attraction. Scheffer has been involved for more than a decade in planning to establish a learning center that would highlight the shrub steppe and other environmental features of the canyon area.

It was the largest of the five grants for projects in Washington.

The grant application was coordinated by Forterra, the former Cascade Land Conservancy, and the Kittitas Environmental Education Network. Scheffer  said the overall byway project is backed by a 30-member coalition, made up of public and private agencies, community groups and individuals. Their goal is to improve visibility of the canyon through the interpretive center and other improvements to the 18-mile byway route within Kittitas and Yakima Counties. John Cooper of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau serves on the local byway committee.

The interpretive center will be about 3,000 square feet and may be ready to open in about a year. Supporters still must raise a 20 percent match to complete the project funding. The 64-acre park is being managed by Forterra, which is in the process of seeking to transfer ownership from the state to Kittitas County.


From a story written by By Mark Morey, Yakima Herald-Republic 8-3-12