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Auction of Washington Wines Contributes $250,000 to Washington State University's Viticulture & Enology Program

Support to complete endowed chair position and fund research projects
January 16, 2013

The 2012 Auction of Washington Wines is contributing $250,000 for Washington State University’s (WSU) Viticulture & Enology Program. The contribution comes as a result of this year’s first-time collaboration between the auction, Washington Wines Festival, and WSU’s Celebrate Washington Wine, which culminated in the region’s premier charity wine event, held Aug. 16-18, 2012 at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington. From this sum, $160,000 will go to fulfill the Endowed Chair as an industry commitment, and all additional funds will go directly to research.

“We’re deeply grateful to the auction’s supporters for helping our Washington wineries and vineyards thrive,” said Dan Bernardo, vice president and dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. “The promise of this Endowed Chair position helped us recruit Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling to Washington State University. As one of the top research enologists in the world, he is helping to make Pacific Northwest wines even more globally acclaimed, generating new funds for the institution and state, and strengthening WSU’s teaching and research partnerships with other regional, national and international universities.”

Most world-renowned wine regions can credit a prominent university which partners in its success, and the Northwest is no exception. Washington State University has provided critical help with science-based solutions to problems in growing grapes and making wine, and it has not gone unnoticed by local wine industry charities.

In addition to Bernardo and Henick-King, the university has more than 30 faculty members working to keep all facets of the Pacific Northwest wine industry thriving. Resources from the auction will fund projects of greatest need to the industry, such as vineyard management, disease management, winemaking practices, and wine marketing. The resources may also be used as matching funds to assist in achieving larger national grants.

Additional funds will be disbursed at the recommendation of the Wine Advisory Committee. Functioning under the Washington State Wine Commission, the committee is made up of five representative growers appointed by the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, and five winery representatives. The committee identifies industry research issues, categorizes and prioritizes them, works with WSU to create a Request for Proposal, analyzes and evaluates all proposals against pre-determined criteria and determines recommended funding based on available funds.

In its 26th year, the Auction of Washington Wines has supported the WSU program for the last 10 years, contributing more than $1.22 million. Prior to merging with the auction, Washington Wines Festival donated $130,930 over the past eight years, and in the 10 years of the Celebrate Washington Wines event, more than $1 million was given to the Viticulture & Enology Program. Collectively, these forces have helped transform the program into one of the largest in the United States.

According to Sherri Swingle, executive director of Auction of Washington Wines, Washington’s vintners and growers are garnering long deserved acclaim from around the globe, but there is still much work to be done in discovering the extent of possibilities within the region.

“Our mission is to produce an exciting event where we can showcase the premium wines of Washington State,” said Swingle. “We are grateful that WSU is providing the science that will help our industry continue to make premium wines and set new standards in winemaking and we are proud to have them as a partner in our efforts. This contribution is just one of many steps in our commitment to supporting work in this industry.”

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About the Auction of Washington Wines

Since its inception in 1988, the Auction of Washington Wines has raised more than $30 million, with a majority benefitting uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital. This distinguished event gives wine lovers the chance to help the Washington wine industry bridge a critical funding gap for children across the Northwest. The 2013 Auction of Washington Wines will take place August 15-17, 2013. Co-chairs are Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery and Stein Kruse, president & CEO of Holland America Line and chairman of Seabourn. Major sponsors have included Chateau Ste. Michelle, Holland America Line, John L. Scott Foundation, King 5 TV, Seattle Magazine, Tulalip Resort Casino, Viking Range/Gateway Appliance Distributing, CKA Creative, and Wine Spectator.

About Washington State University’s Viticulture & Enology Program

The Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Program aims to strengthen the quality and reputation of the Washington wine industry. A portion of the proceeds from the Auction of Washington Wines helped to complete the funding for the Endowed Chair of Viticulture and Enology at Washington State University, held by Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling. WSU became an official partner of Auction of Washington Wines in 2012.

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