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Victor Palencia, winemaker at Willow Crest Winery, believes there is an untapped market for Washington wines in the Latino segment of the population.

“There’s a huge potential of the Hispanic market that hasn’t been touched. Hispanics are not a big wine-drinking culture, but they like sweet and light whites, not big reds that are bold. They like wines that are more approachable.”

Palencia is one of the state’s youngest winemakers—just reaching the legal drinking age last January—and also part of a small, but growing, number of Hispanic winery owners and winemakers in the United States.

He has ideas on how to better reach the Hispanic market. Wines need to be matched to the culture in the right price range and flavor profiles and style. He believes more simplistic labeling, perhaps bilingual labels, and more generic labeling information would make wine more appealing to Latinos.

Vineyard workers take great pride in their work, Palencia explained. They frequently ask to buy a bottle of wine made from the grapes that they helped grow and harvest to show what they do to their family and friends.

He added that Yakima Valley wines are a natural fit for the Hispanic market as they provide excellent value for a premium product, and many Latinos take part in their production.