Walla Walla Vintners. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson

What’s in Walla Walla’s Wallet?

Economic study reveals wine industry creating significant impact


Just as Walla Walla Valley wine delivers on the palate, the region’s wine industry also yields a major impact to the economy, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars of activity. The “Economic Impact of the Walla Walla Wine Industry,” a study released in early May, details the importance of wine to the area’s prosperity.

Authored by a team led by Dr. Nick Velluzzi of Walla Walla Community College and commissioned by the City of Walla Walla, Port of Walla Walla, Visit Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, the study proves the wine trade’s staggering impact.

According to the research, the Walla Walla wine industry, directly or indirectly, supported 2,484 wine and tourism jobs in 2018 — nearly 10% of all employed Walla Walla County residents — and accounted for labor income of $114 million, an average of $45,894 in annual income per worker. In all, the report estimates the industry generated some $430 million in business sales and injected $17.4 million in tax revenues into local government coffers.

The study specifically targeted consumers who cited visits to wineries and/or tasting rooms as the primary reason for their trip. Those who visited the Valley for purposes other than wine were eliminated from the sample set. The findings suggest these visitors spent $145 million in 2018 in combined lodging, food and wine expenditures.

“Our research shows that the value contribution of the combined effects of wine production and wine-related tourism in the Walla Walla Valley is immense,” says Velluzzi, the executive director of institutional effectiveness for the college. “According to these results, the wine industry is clearly one of the most important economic drivers in the region.”

The study — co-authored by Bill Beyers of the University of Washington and Don Morgan of GMA Research Corp. in Bellevue, Washington — is believed to be the first of its kind. Researchers examined surveys of visitors to Walla Walla as well as the region’s wineries and tasting rooms over the course of 2018 to get a comprehensive view of the combined economic impact of wine production, wine tasting room activity and tourist activity stimulated by the wine industry in Walla Walla and Umatilla counties. Vineyards were not surveyed as part of the study, which means sales of grapes to other wineries were not included.

“The wine industry is indispensable to the Walla Walla tourism industry,” says Ron Williams, CEO of Visit Walla Walla. “Not only does the wine industry directly attract thousands of visitors each year, it indirectly helps support Walla Walla’s innovative culinary scene, and its robust arts and entertainment culture. That helps improve the quality of life for all of us in the Walla Walla Valley, which is also important in making Walla Walla such a unique destination.”

When asked to identify the attributes most closely associated with Walla Walla, among the most frequent responses were: the high quality of the wine; friendly, family-run wineries; and the charming town — and the No. 1 response.

“Our members take great pride in being a valuable contributor to Walla Walla and its surrounding areas,” says Ashley Mahan, chief operating officer of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “Through their hard work and passion, Walla Walla’s reputation as a world-class wine region has become internationally known. And that has helped the economy thrive for all of us in Walla Walla.”

To learn more about the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and its members, visit For more information on planning a trip or to directly book a visit to Walla Walla, go to 

Some Stats

$123 million: Combined revenue of wineries and independent tasting rooms in 2018.

$25.62 million: Labor income for winery and independent tasting room workers in 2018.

56%: Percentage of winery revenue from direct sales via tasting rooms, clubs and e-commerce in 2018.

$60 million: Money spent by wine tourists on wine purchases in 2018.

$145 million: The total money spent by wine tourists in 2018.

$812: Average money wine visitors spent per trip in 2018.

60%: Percentage of survey respondents who've been visiting the region since at least 2014.

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