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“ The expedition swept on toward the junction of the Snake and Columbia, passing through the canyon-lined Snake on into present Washington State, where the Great Columbian Plain offered a barren landscape in stark contrast to the wooded mountains the party was leaving behind. ”

(from “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen E. Ambrose)


In October of 1805, the Corps of Discovery Expedition, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark reached the confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, welcomed by the Great Columbian Plain, better known today as the Columbia Basin. That “barren landscape,” with the help of such projects as the Grand Coulee Dam and the resulting Columbia Basin Project, produced hundreds of thousands of once barren, but now highly prized agricultural real estate. A new breed of pioneers with names like Lamb, Clore, Mercer and Wyckoff embraced and nurtured that real estate into fertile farms and home to one of the most productive food and beverage processing regions in the world!

Food and Beverage Processing

While the Columbia Basin is considered a world-class grower of grapes, chickpeas, apples, pears, potatoes, sweet cherries, fresh peas, sweet corn, asparagus, carrots and mint, there are few crops that won’t find a happy home in the rich Columbia Basin soil. It is often said, “if it ain’t tropical, it can be grown in the Columbia Basin.” Such a wide variety of agriculture naturally encourages a wide variety of food and beverage processing, accounting for approximately USD 1 billion in gross sales and over 4,500 jobs.

The Columbia Basin produces the most wine in Washington State at approximately 11 million gallons per year, contributing another USD 1 billion dollars and about 5,200 jobs to the local economy. It is home to four of Washington State’s eleven American Viticulture Areas with over 150 wineries within an hour’s drive. Two world-class facilities have been built to support the industry: the Wine Science Center at Washington State University and the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center. Please visit the Food and Beverage Processors’ Tabs for a listing of companies located in the Columbia Basin.

Strategic Gateway between America and Asia

Because of its location, perched on the northwest corner of the United States, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the booming economies of Asia, the Columbia Basin is the Strategic Gateway between America and Asia, blessed with an abundance of assets to grow your domestic and international food and beverage processing business, including, but not limited to:



(served by the Ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Portland)


Transit Times From Seattle:

• Tokyo, Japan (12 days)
• Pusan, South Korea (13 days)
• Shanghai, China (15 days)
• Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (19 days)

The Columbia – Snake River System provides barge service West to Portland, Oregon and East to Lewiston, Idaho. Drive time between the Columbia Basin and Seattle is approximately four hours.


Tri-Cities Airport (Pasco, Washington) is served by Delta, Alaska Air, United, and Allegiant with direct flights to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Mesa (Arizona). The flight time between the Tri-Cities Airport (Pasco, Washington) and Sea-Tac Airport (Seattle, Washington) is approximately one hour.

Flight Times From Seattle:

• Tokyo, Japan (10 hours)
• Seoul, South Korea (11 hours)
• Shanghai, China (12 hours)
• Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (15 hours)



The Columbia Basin offers mainline rail freight service by both Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific Railroads.

Railex is a unique eco-friendly, full-service, temperature controlled, national transportation and logistics company, providing price competitive multi-modal, refrigerated storage and distribution, repacking, inventory control, guaranteed capacity and forward distribution services. Railex provides direct five-day service from the Columbia Basin to Rotterdam, New York and Jacksonville, Florida, effectively serving the populous markets of the Eastern and Southeastern United States.


The Columbia Basin is well connected to the four corners of the United States, including direct links to Interstates 5 and 90. Interstate 5, running North-South, is the primary highway on the West Coast, running parallel to the Pacific Ocean, from Canada to Mexico, serving the West Coast states of Washington, Oregon and California and some of America’s largest cities: Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Interstate 90, running East-West, effectively connects the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast, starting in Seattle, with courtesy stops in “cowboy country” (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota), a short stay to say “hello” in Wisconsin, time for a “deep dish pizza” in Chicago, with a glancing pass through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York before finally hunkering down for some baked beans in Boston.

Truck on freeway



Cold Storage

The Columbia Basin is blessed with world-class cold storage facilities to accommodate the food and beverage processing industry, including Columbia Colstor and Henningsen Cold Storage Company.

Vintners Logistics provides a temperature controlled licensed and bonded wine warehouse, certified food grade warehousing, a transportation fleet of refrigerated and dry vans and valued-added logistical services.

Trade Experts

The Columbia Basin is represented in Asia by Washington State Department of Agriculture representatives in Shanghai, China; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, South Korea and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They also have an international trade representative in Kennewick. The Western United States Agricultural Trade Association located in Vancouver, Washington provides help to Columbia Basin companies in exploring, entering and expanding into the Asian marketplace. The Export Finance Assistance Center in Seattle provides free export finance advice and counseling assistance to small and medium sized exporters in the Columbia Basin.


Innovative Properties for Innovative Companies

The Columbia Basin is blessed with three ports that combine great locations, innovation and competitive pricing to accommodate food and beverage processing companies: the Port of Benton, the Port of Kennewick and the Port of Pasco.

Badger Mountain South, a master planned community in Richland, features the 60 acre Veneto Villagio, an Italian themed food and beverage processing park, focused on attracting food tourists to the region’s agricultural splendor.


To learn more about the demographics and business climate of the Columbia Basin, visit TRIDEC.