SPRING BARREL: fuel for Prosser's economy

TRI-CITIES, YAKIMA, PROSSER - It is an event that pours both wine and money into our economy. Wine season is officially here thanks to Spring Barrel weekend. It's an event that's survived through tough economic times. Yet, it still brings home the profits.

Taking time to enjoy wine. It's not a tough task for Jim and Sharon Crawford.

"We love wine. It's like romance in a bottle," said Spring Barrel visitor Jim Crawford.

Traveling every year from the westside to this quaint town. The couple tells us they can't miss it. in fact, they have a 25 year record to prove it.

"We just enjoy the scenery, the culture, everything," said Spring Barrel visitor Sharon Crawford.

It's the scenery of the rolling foothills. The charming appeal of Prosser's downtown. It's a downtown that benefits from the sudden influx of tourism. An industry that's struggled through an economic depression.

"It used to be cheap entertainment -- it's certainly not anymore," added Jim Crawford.

The rising cost of travel didn't stop this couple from spending a thousand bucks on wine. This winery alone expects upwards of six-to-seven hundred to come through the doors.

One veteran winemaker tells Action News the times have changed.

"This room was so full. We'd have people backed up waiting to come in," said Prosser Winemaker John Rauner.

John Rauner and his wife opened business in 1977. Back then, they'd see six thousand stop by over the course of three days. When we spoke with them, they had served less than one hundred so far.

"Years past, we would have had 400 to 500 by now," said Rauner.

Still, Rauner emphasizes: Prosser is growing and changing for the better.

Going from one motel to several. Over the years, adding new restaurants, a facelift to the downtown, upgraded signage and a walk-path.

"It's a friendly town with a lot of friendly people," said Rauner.

It's a people that know how to host. Pouring wine to keep revenues flowing and to better serve this growing community.