New television series showcases Washington’s wineries and winemakers

Northwest Public Television is planning to create a television series that will showcase Northwest wine, beer and other spirits.

The weekly show, which does not have a designated air time and start date yet, will take an informative and fun look at the wine industry while covering the people involved with it, as well as how it impacts tourism and business, said Tom Hungate, the program manager for NWPT.

“We are hoping to feature one (winery) per episode, so it would depend on the success of the series if we get to include all the wineries in the Northwest,” Hungate said. “The feedback we get from the community will help us determine the show’s format.”

Hungate said the show will educate viewers on specific details as well as general information about the wine industry, which he hopes will add to a wider appreciation for those various beverages created in the Northwest.

“We shot some footage at the Barnard Griffin Winery to use as a starting point and are now in the process of gathering information from community members and people involved in the industry to determine what sort of information is most helpful and how the structure of the show can be developed to make it interesting and engaging,” he said.  “There is so much that goes into wine making and marketing, and each winery has a unique approach.  This is what we hope to capture and share with people across the country though our public television affiliation.”

One crucial part to making the show a reality is gathering funding, he said.

“Northwest Public Television has heard from many people over the years that this is a perfect program to create about our (Mid-Columbia) area, and we feel the explosion of wine grape cultivation and the growth of wineries in the area is proof of the commitment to this industry,” Hungate said.  “We now need to identify people, businesses and associations that will help us create this series.”

Many of the details for the show have yet to be ironed out, he added, and some of the content of each episode will depend on the guests the show features.

“Andy Perdue, for example, would have guidance for food pairings and vintages, while someone from the WSU Wine Science Center, like Thomas Henick-Kling could provide some of the science behind wine production and where the industry is heading,” Hungate said.

Although wine will be the primary focus of the show, which will air on Channel 31 in the Tri-Cities, regional beer brewers and hard cider production also will be featured.

The opening of the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center at Washington State University Tri-Cities, has solidified the future business of wine in the Northwest, and with that in mind, Hungate wants to tell the personal stories behind those wineries and businesses, he said.

“Our hope is to create a first season of 13 episodes this year and then add additional seasons if it proves popular,” he said. “There is so much that goes into wine making and marketing, and each winery has a unique approach. This is what we hope to capture and share with people across the country through our public television affiliation.”

Northwest Public Television consists of two PBS stations – KTNW in the Tri-Cities/Walla Walla, and KWSU in Pullman/Lewiston/Spokane. All are licensed by WSU.  Northwest Public Radio is also part of the same public media group, which is managed by The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

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