Author of “Sideways” and “Vertical” Novels to Speak in Yakima Washington

Rex Pickett_11142010_090-Edit Author and screenplay writer Rex Pickett will be the featured guest and presenter at BLEND, a  reception and wine event April 18th, 5:30 p.m. in the Yakima Convention Center  hosted by the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau.

Pickett has written many screenplays for both film and television. He wrote the novel Sideways, which was made into the famous Oscar-winning film of the same title by Alexander Payne. In 2011 he wrote and independently published his Sideways sequel Vertical. It won the prestigious Gold Medal for Fiction from the Independent Publishers Book Awards last year.

Rex has now has turned Sideways into a critically-acclaimed play. After a successful six month run in Santa Monica, “Sideways” the play will now go to the La Jolla Playhouse where it will be prepped for its Broadway run. Rex is currently the wine columnist for Town & Country Magazine and is writing a pilot for HBO titled The Nose. He also blogs for Huffington Post Books. Inklings Bookshop will have copies of Mr. Pickett’s books available for purchase  and autographs after his talk.

BLEND is open to the public and includes the opportunity to meet and hear Mr. Pickett, enjoy wine by Yakima Valley wineries plus sumptuous appetizers and more.  Cost is $25 per person. To reserve call 509-575-3010 or email laura@visityakima.com. Online tickets are available here (small transaction fee applies).

Participating wineries include Two Mountain Winery, Kana Winery, Milbrandt Vineyards, Gilbert Cellars, Airfield Estates, Sleeping Dog Wines, Treveri Cellars sparkling wine,  Knight Hill Winery, Kestrel Vintners & Cultura Wine.

Sponsors to date include the Holiday Inn and Oxford Inn and Suites of Yakima. Riedel stemware sponsored by Paul Berndt, Prudential Almon Realty


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BLEND SPONSORS:

blendSponsors

 

 

 

PARTICIPATING WINERIES:

  • Airfield Estates Winery
  • Cultura Wines
  • Gilbert Cellars
  • Kana Winery
  • Kestrel Vintners
  • Knight Hill Winery
  • Milbrandt Vineyards
  • Sleeping Dog Wines
  • Treveri Cellars
  • Two Mountain Winery

 

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2013 Official Yakima Valley Visitors Guide Published

2013VguideCvrThe 2013 Yakima Valley Official Visitors Guide™ has been released. The full-color, 56-page guide covers the communities, events, attractions in the Yakima Valley, from Red Mountain to White Pass. It is a free publication of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau.

“What’s different about this guide is that everything was designed to have consistency in look and appearance,” stated John Cooper, President & CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “From the advertisements to the community listings the design flows well. It reads more like a travel magazine than a typical visitors guide.”

The publication includes information and maps on the area’s wineries, produce stands and farmer’s markets, local heritage, festivals, outdoor adventure, dining, lodging, museums, the arts, entertainment, shopping, relocation and more.

To receive a free issue of the 2013 Yakima Valley Official Visitors Guide™ call (509) 575-3010, toll free (800) 221-0751, e-mail info@visityakima.com or stop by the Yakima Valley Visitors Information Center at 101 North Fair Avenue, off Interstate 82 in Yakima.  A digital version is available at www.visityakimavalley.org.

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Washington State Deserves a Tourism Program

When it comes to marketing a state for tourists, like sports you’re either in the game or you’re not. Washington State is not only out of the game, we’re nowhere near the parking lot.

In July 2011 the state tourism office was shut down due to budget constraints. Meanwhile, our surrounding states (and main competitors) expanded their tourism marketing. California and British Columbia each now have budgets exceeding $50 million. Oregon spends more than $12 million to lure visitors. Idaho is around $9 million. Any of the 50 states in the USA spend more than Washington to attract visitors.

Why do states invest in tourism promotion? Because it makes good business sense. Michigan recently invested $30 million in their tourism efforts and created 10,000 new jobs and $43.5 million in tax revenues. Conversely in 1993 Colorado eliminated its tourism office. Research showed that Colorado’s domestic visitor market plunged 30% within two years, representing a loss of over $1.4 billion in tourism revenue annually. Recognizing they were ‘out of the game’ and it was affecting their economy, the state starting funding a state tourism program some seven years later. But we can’t afford to wait seven years.

Tourism means jobs, new tax revenues and affects all regions of our state. Tourism is the fourth largest industry in Washington with nearly 150,000 jobs. Visitors spent $16.4 billion in 2011, generating more than $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. Yakima County is ranked 8th of the 39 counties in visitor spending with $350 million spent annually by visitors supporting more than 3,500 local jobs. Visitors also reduce your tax load. According to research conducted by Dean Runyan Associates of Portland, Washington families pay $400 less in taxes because of revenues generated by out-of-state visitors.

As the state tourism office closed the tourism industry formed the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) to move tourism forward for Washington. A primary focus of the organization has been to educate legislators, policy makers and business leaders of the importance of tourism for our economy, jobs and quality of life. We’ve been looking at the ways other states fund their tourism efforts. A favored model being considered involves having tourism industry sectors pay assessments that are pooled together to market the state. That’s how they do it in California and their program has been very successful. Getting industry support takes time (California took five years to pass their funding model).  In the meantime, WTA is asking for $1.9 million in ‘bridge’ funding from the legislature until a more stable funding source is developed.  This would cover website costs, postage to mail an industry funded visitor guide, a toll-free call center, research and some international marketing. Considering the average state tourism budget exceeds $14 million, that’s small change, but it’s a start in the right direction.

I am encouraged that Governor Inslee supports these efforts in his Working Washington Agenda and hope the legislature will also back this initiative to build tourism.

If Washington wants to be in the tourism game, we need to be all in and support an industry developed and industry driven tourism marketing program. Otherwise we will strike out.

John Cooper is the President and CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau and serves on the board of the Washington Tourism Alliance representing Central Washington.

This was a guest editorial in the February 17th 2013 issue of the Yakima Herald Republic daily newspaper.

Building Wine Tourism in Yakima Valley Washington

Wine tourism is an important part of the tourism brand for the Yakima Valley.  The Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) recently implemented a series of projects to build wine tourism for the Valley and beyond. Here are a few examples:

  • The Yakima Valley and Tri-Cities VCBs took over managing the Washington Wine Country regional branding organization.This organization brands and markets the region from Yakima to Walla Walla, where more than 90% of Washington’s wine grapes are grown
  • The Yakima Valley VCB took the lead to get the ‘case of wine flies free’ on Alaska Airlines program (Taste and Tote) expanded from Walla Walla. Now Alaska customers can check a case of wine free from the Yakima, Tri-Cities and Walla Walla airports.
  • In partnership with those communities and dozens of businesses we promoted the Taste and Tote program through table tents, in-flight and consumer magazines, travel and lifestyle media plus social media channels. The media exposure alone reached nearly nine million readers and yielded more than $54,000 in media value.
  • We also redesigned and promoted our VCB wine tourism micro-website. It includes an interactive wine map, events, winery listings, suggested tasting routes, AVA information, wine country history and more. It and other sites of the VCB were made mobile ready for smart phones.
  • We launched Winedoggies.com, a new website for visitors traveling with their dogs.  Highlights include a ‘doggie bloggie’ hosted by a local dog, an interactive map of around 50 dog-friendly businesses, Twitter account plus a section where guests can add pictures and stories of their dogs enjoying our region. The Western Association of CVBs awarded the bureau a Best Idea Award for the site in the 2012.
  •  Our multi-channel marketing campaigns had a strong wine and culinary focus. In the spring we ran a radio campaign on Seattle radio stations. It reminded folks on the ‘wet side’ of the state that the sun does shine and that there are many reasons to visit our wine country. It was a finalist for the national Radio Mercury Awards. To hear the radio spot click http://budurl.com/FindSpring
  •  In November 2012 we launched Sip, Ski and Savor, a winter campaign that included wine related events and other activities. A focus of the campaign was a weekend getaway contest. Since the program launched, we’ve seen a 25% increase in web visitors, 1,500 requests for information, and 2,000 new Facebook fans.
  • We had a busy year working with the media to place features on the Valley. Many of these had a focus on wine related events and attractions. Stories were placed in National Geographic Traveler, San Francisco Chronicle, Bend Bulletin, Wine Enthusiast, Seattle Magazine, Sip Northwest and many other outlets. Our efforts resulted in 95 travel media articles with an advertising value exceeding $1.56 million in value. For samples check our Yakima Valley in the News section of our website.
  • Underlying our marketing and advertising was a coordinated social media strategy across a variety of platforms.

The end result has been a greater awareness of the Yakima Valley and Washington Wine Country as a wine and culinary destination and more visitors.