Like many of us, the Yakima Valley’s wine industry has had to do some serious pivoting in the past year.

But as we prepared this month’s issue, which focuses on wine, we saw lots to make us feel optimistic about a sector of our local economy and culture that continues to evolve and thrive.

When the pandemic hit last year, it knocked events and wine tastings — significant sources of revenue — off the table. The silver lining? Local wineries wasted no time educating themselves about online marketing and alternative delivery methods.

That wasn’t all, though. They also learned a lot about the power of collaboration.

“There has been renewed interest in small businesses really working together and pulling for each other,” winemaker Jacki Evans told Sommelier Business recently. “We are always trying to make more connections.”

Evans who’s developing her popular Sin Banderas brand while holding down her “real” job at Owen Roe (see Shannon Mahre’s feature on Page 28), has hit on one of the few good things to come of the COVID-19 catastrophe: Some businesses, it seems, are poised to emerge even stronger when this is all over.

And from what our writers have been hearing and seeing, our money says the valley’s world-renowned wineries will be among those businesses.

In addition to Shannon’s visit with the women who keep Owen Roe roling, Ryan Messer spent some time with Justin Neufeld, a longtime winemaker with Gilbert Cellars whose own brand, JB Neufeld, is winning impressive acclaim across the industry. (See story, Page 8.)

It doesn’t stop with wine, however. As Ryan’s report on the return of Restaurant Week (Page 14) shows, agile local dining establishments have shifted strategies mid-stride to better reach and serve the community.

So we’d like to dedicate this issue specifically to the people who make and deliver the wines —and foods — we all love.

We appreciate your wines — and we appreciate your hard work and craftsmanship. You’re making the Yakima Valley a better place to live.

If the rest of you feel the same, you can show your gratitude by patronizing your neighbors’ products.

- John Taylor