Focus Magazine

Red Mountain, between Benton City and West Richland, was designated a sub-American Viticultural Area in 2001. It now boasts 54 vineyards covering more than 2,300 acres. (Photo: Washington State Wine Commission/Andrea Johnson Photography)

Vines reign supreme: State boasts viticulture advantage

Growing high-quality wine grapes that become award-winning wine and millions of tons of juice grapes that become America’s best-known grape juices make up the viticulture industry in Washington state. Washington’s massive grape crop is among the 10 highest-valued crops in the state, ranking ninth in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, after producing…

Kent Waliser, director of vineyard operations for Sagemoor Vineyards, just north of the Tri-Cities, grows 60 percent of its grapes for red wine and 40 percent for white wines. (Photo: Washington State Wine Commission/Andrea Johnson Photography)

Steady growth: Wine grape demand nearly outpaces supply

Washington has developed a reputation for over-delivering on the quality of wine as it relates to the price of the bottle, creating an increasing demand for the state’s wine grapes. “You can’t make good wine with bad grapes,” said Vicky Sharlau, executive director of the Washington Winegrowers Association. In the past five years, acres dedicated…

Concord grapes

Concord costs: The quest to keep juice grapes profitable

Washington produces more juice grapes than any other state in the nation, fueling the building blocks for not just juice, but also jelly, fruit leather and syrup. Despite sitting atop the U.S. supply, the state acreage of juice grapes has declined slightly in the past several years. People aren’t buying juice as often as they…

After hops are separated, they make their way to a conveyor belt where they then move on to a kiln to be dried. Washington boasts nearly 70 percent of U.S. hop production, with 98 percent of U.S. hops grown throughout the Northwest. (Photo: Hops of America)

Tops for hops: U.S. dominates world market

After five years of unprecedented growth, the Northwest hop industry has been almost single-handedly responsible for establishing the U.S. as the No. 1 producer of hops in the world, accounting for 42 percent of all production. Washington boasts nearly 70 percent of U.S. production, with 98 percent of U.S. hops grown throughout the Northwest, according…

A January 2016 study by Washington State University-Pullman found the state’s potato industry generates $7.42 billion in total economic output for Washington. (Photo: Washington Potato Commission)

Potato powerhouse: State ranks No. 2 in nation for potatoes

Potatoes are Washington state’s third top commodity, behind apples and milk, valued at $888 million last year, up from $813 million in 2016. This year’s outlook looks promising, with most of the state’s potatoes grown in Eastern Washington and the Skagit Valley and producing 20 percent of all U.S. potatoes. “Last year, Washington state produced…

Favorable growing conditions allow Washington wheat growers to produce some of the highest yields in the nation. (Photo: Washington State Department of Agriculture)

Looming concerns: Wheat farmers wary of proposed trade policies

By Jennifer L. Drey Washington wheat farmers face challenging times as the industry navigates changes in U.S. trade policy and potential cuts to crop insurance and key conservation programs included in the U.S. Farm Bill. Industry representatives have already taken to Washington, D.C., to make sure they have a seat at the table as the…

Asparagus is the first crop of the year to be harvested in the Columbia Basin and appears in stores mid-April through early June. Since the U.S. asparagus industry collapse in 2005, Washington’s growers have turned their attention to the fresh market, providing customers asparagus picked within a couple of days of purchase. (Photo: Gary Larsen)

Focus on fresh: Asparagus yields improving after market collapse

After years spent recovering from the collapse of the U.S. asparagus industry, Washington has experienced steady growth as local producers find new ways to adapt to the changed market. Thirty years ago, Washington was the world’s center for asparagus production, producing   100 million pounds in 1990, said Alan Schreiber, an Eltopia farmer and executive…

mint

Mighty mint: Growers help meet world demand for mint

By Jennifer L. Drey When it comes to mint, a little goes a long way. One drop of mint oil can flavor 2.5 tubes of toothpaste, 31 sticks of gum or  125 mint candies. But when it comes to Washington-grown mint, it may be more accurate to say that a lot goes a long way…

Homes and schools are being built to fill the demand of the growing population in the Tri-Cities. These homes and Kennewick elementary school No. 16 are being built in south Richland. (Photo: Paul T. Erickson)

Experts say region poised for continued growth

By Michelle Dupler Everywhere you look in the Tri-Cities, there are new faces, new businesses and new homes being built. The area is in the midst of economic and population booms that keep ranking it on lists of desirable places to live, work and play. And local experts say the steady growth should continue at…

Lola Franklin, CEO of the Tri-City Association of Realtors, said this year’s residential home sales look similar to last year’s. Through August 2017, the association reported a total of 2,813 homes sold, and an average sold price in August of $272,400. In 2016, a total of 4,423 homes sold, compared to 4,153 in 2015, an increase of 6.5 percent. (Photo: Paul T. Erickson)

Residential market hungry for homes

By Michelle Dupler The Tri-City area continues to be a hot market for real estate, offering continued affordability, low unemployment and an attractive local economy in comparison to many other metro areas in the United States. Local experts said single-family home construction continues to boom, as do sales of existing homes, while both the average…

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