Thursday, August 18, 2011

Washignton to get a new wine research center

The Washington Wine Commission today pledged $7.4 million over the next decade toward the construction of a wine science center on the Richland campus of Washington State University.

Baseler & Betz.JPG
It doesn't hurt that Ted Baseler, ceo of the state's largest wine company, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, is also chairman of WSU's board of regents. "All of the world's great wine regions have a benchmark institution to conduct research into grape growing and wine making, Baseler said. "The Wine Science Center will enable us to properly educate our industry's future leaders."

The center is expected to be a gathering place that will spark innovation, fuel economic development, support local, regional, national and international collaboration, and provide a catalyst for research breakthroughs, according to the Campaign for Wine website. (That's Baseler on the left in the photo, standing with Bob Betz, founder of Betz Family Winery, at the annual picnic for the Auction of Washington Wines.)

The industry's contribution will be raised through assessments on grape and wine production, beginning with the 2011 harvest. Says Kent Waliser, general manager of Sagemoor Vineyards and chairman of the commission, "This critically important project....will be seen as a significant milestone in the evolution of our industry."

The research and teaching facility will house the WSU's rapidly expanding viticulture & enology program led by Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling. The new building will be situated on land donated by the Port of Benton, developed by a new public development authority to be created by the City of Richland), and will be turned over to Washington State University.
Marty Clubb, president of the Washington Wine Institute and owner of L'Ecole NÂș 41 Winery, says that the research expected to take place at the Wine Science Center will help ensure the continued growth of the state's wine industry in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

With over 700 wineries and more than 40,000 acres planted statewide, the Washington State wine industry contributes more than $3 billion annually to the state economy and $4.7 billion annually to the national economy. Additional information from the Wine Commission in the PDF linked to this page.

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