Winery Funding Bi-Lingual Healthcare Officer in Walla Walla

By Dori Luzzo Gilmour

Washington’s eight-billion-dollar wine industry relies heavily on its workers, many of whom do not have easy access to healthcare. A non-profit winery called Vital Wines is looking to change that. Ashley Trout founded the non-profit in 2016.

“Here is Washington state we have a relatively new wine growing region, but it’s not that new anymore and it was just important to me that in the infancy of this wine region we sort the structure up in such a way that we were taking care of everybody,” Trout said.

Workers are in the region for as long as harvest, and many don’t get employer-provided health insurance and have difficulties accessing care.  During the Covid-19 pandemic, agricultural workers were disproportionately impacted because of living in multigenerational housing, no paid sick leave, and living with people that were exposed to illness.  Trout says, “we were able to fund some of those days at home, so they could make those choices, so it was a speed bump, not a brick wall.”

Vital Wines uses donated grapes, corks, capsules, labels, and design work. The tasting room then sells the wines, using the profits for healthcare programs. Vital Wines newest project is funding a bi-cultural, bi-lingual health care officer in Walla Walla. The Promotores de Salud is holding workshops and connecting with Latino workers and families to improve their health care outcomes.