Washington wineries, lawmakers push for wine license plates

OLYMPIA, Wash. – As the second-largest producer of wine in the United States, wineries and lawmakers believe it’s time Washington drivers have the ability to sport wine license plates.

The Washington Wine Institute has partnered with the Washington State Wine Commission to work with Representative Kelly Chambers (R-Puyallup) for this initiative.

“We need to spend money on marketing tourism to Washington state now more than ever and really emphasize on getting those hospitality industries; those mom and pop restaurants back on their feet and getting people out and enjoying every corner of Washington and all the great things we have to offer here,” she said.

Chambers owns a vineyard in the Chelan region, has been working for years to get this initiative introduced to legislation.

According to the state wine commission, there are over 1,000 wineries throughout the state who contribute more than $8 billion in annual state economic impact.

Emily Fergestrom, who owns Fortuity Cellars in Yakima, with her husband, also sits on the WWI board. She said Oregon has a wine license plate, it’s time Washington gets one too.

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“Washington needs it and the great part about this is it’s an opportunity for people who love Washington wine to support the industry and the money from these plates goes directly to the Washington tourism alliance which is responsible for really marketing the state to the country and the world,” she said.

Fergestrom said the state tourism alliance is crucial to getting the smaller wine regions, like Yakima, marketed to the rest of the country.

As the state recovers from shutdowns during the pandemic, tourism is the boost state wineries like Fortuity needs.

“We rely heavily on tourism we need people to know about we need people to visit and to try Washington wine. So the more that we have the opportunity to really expand our tourism programs to get people to come to our state and visit and spend money, the better we all will be,” she said.

A petition has been started to get the 3,500 signatures needed to propel the initiative into legislation.

So far, they have about 73 percent of the signatures needed, you can show support here.