Washington State Wine Hires Melissa Hansen as New Research Program Manager
Washington State Wine is taking a pivotal step toward growing its research program by hiring communications veteran Melissa Hansen as its first-ever research program manager. The new position advances WSW’s vision to firmly establish the Washington State wine industry as an internationally recognized leader in viticulture and enology research.
Hansen has more than 30 years of experience working for grape and tree fruit growers. For the past 20 years, she has been associate editor of Good Fruit Grower, a Yakima-based magazine with international reach that focuses on the Pacific Northwest grape and tree fruit industries. Previously, she was the first research director for the California Table Grape Commission and helped establish what has become a $1.2 million research program. Hansen also lobbied on behalf of California grape and tree fruit growers and shippers before state and federal regulators and legislators, while serving as the public and government relations director for the California Grape and Tree Fruit League (now the California Fresh Fruit Association).
“Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge to our team,” said Steve Warner, president of WSW, the state government agency that represents all wineries and grape growers in Washington. “She has a solid foundation in the technical aspects of agriculture and the skills to successfully promote the exciting developments in our research community. We welcome her direction and expertise.”
In her new role as research program manager, Hansen will implement WSW’s Research Strategic Plan, which provides the framework for an amplified industry-led research program with goals of improving the quality of wine and grapes, keeping the industry competitive and steadily growing, and raising global awareness of Washington State wines. She will also manage the research proposal review process, improve research communications within the industry, systematize the process of research funding and leverage industry research funds.
Hansen will be based at Washington State University’s Wine Science Center in Richland, Wash., where she will work closely with WSU viticulture and enology researchers and be near the heart of Washington State’s wine country. She begins her new role Nov.1.