Vineyards and wineries on state trust land will help diversify revenue sources for Washington public schools

In a few years, newly planted vineyards on state trust land in the Red Mountain area of Benton County will be producing high-quality wine grapes like those shown here. Photo: DNR

One of the newest and most interesting additions to the Washington agricultural scene got its world premiere, of sorts, in late May with the planting of the first grapes on a parcel of state trust land in Washington’s lower Yakima Valley.

The project got attention in several newspapers including editorials in The Yakima Herald (“Vineyard grows money for schools”) and the Spokane Spokesman Review (“Diversifying state trust into grapes toastworthy”).

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark was among those attending the opening of the newest vineyard at Red Mountain – part of a 404-acre agri-wine development in Benton County – will bring a new and steady source of non-tax revenue to Washington’s schools. 

Best of all, the vineyard and winery project helps diversify the types of natural resource revenue that supports the school building trust, which is now heavily dependent on income from timber. Vineyards have been a small part of the trust portfolio but adding wineries to the leasing mix in coming years will increase the potential long-term income.

The Red Mountain vineyard that DNR is leasing is expected to reach full production in a few years. When it does, the cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, syrah and other grape varieties grown there by DNR’s leasees will bring about $375,000 each year to the state for 50 years.

DNR’s vineyard planting drew attention from media around state, including the Tri-City Herald, KOMO-TV and numerous other outlets.

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