PROSSER, Wash. — Every induction into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame is historic, but the 2014 ceremony will be particularly memorable because it will be staged at the newly opened Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center.
“Last year was pretty interesting because it was the evening of a really, really big windstorm,” said Abbey Cameron, director of events and marketing for the Clore Center. “We had tents blowing all over, so we’re happy to move the event indoors to the Clore Center for a lot of reasons.”
Next year, Cameron looks forward to promoting the Vineyard Pavilion, which has been home to the Washington Wine Hall of Fame ceremony, and the long-anticipated Clore Center — named after the renowned Washington State University vineyard researcher who died in 2003.
Construction of the 15,000-square-foot Clore Center is scheduled for completion next month. The first event scheduled for the new Clore Center is the Prosser Chamber of Commerce annual banquet in late January. Cameron described it as a “sneak peek” for community leaders. The public grand opening won’t be until spring.
“We will need the time to get the tasting room set up,” she said.
The Clore Center — a stone’s throw from Desert Wind Winery — will feature exhibits that focus on the Washington state wine and agriculture industries, a tasting area for wine and food, a demonstration kitchen and retail space. It also will provide indoor and outdoor venues for conferences, classes, meetings, business and social events.
It’s been nearly a decade in the making, and at one point, the price tag for the Clore Center was pegged at more than $10 million. However, the economy changed and the list of amenities scaled down. It continues to be developed in partnership with the Port of Benton and private supporters.
“The vision for the building has evolved over time because of funding,” she said. “We don’t have underground caves and elevators, but the focus will continue to be on promoting Washington wine and agriculture in the tasting room, where we will rotate Washington wines on a monthly basis.”
Cost for the new building came in at $4 million. Total cost of the entire project is $7 million, which includes the Vineyard Pavilion. However, fundraising continues for tasting room equipment and operating dollars, with a target of $800,000.
“It is paid for, and the project has no debt,” Cameron said. “Fundraising continues in the form of contributions, in-kind support, and sponsorships.”
With regards to the tasting room, Cameron said the Clore Center is making arrangements for a third party to orchestrate and organize the wines and the region to be focused each month.
“Being neutral is important,” she said.
One of Cameron’s other responsibilities is working behind the scenes on Washington Wine Hall of Fame. She moved up the nomination process three months to make it easier and more special for the winemaker responsible for creating the wine featured in the Aug. 8 induction ceremony.
Inductees include the S.W. “Bill” Preston, founder of Preston Premium Wines; John and Ann Williams and Jim and Pat Holmes, Red Mountain wine pioneers; Stan Clarke, a 30-year industry veteran; John Anderson, a visionary and mentor who believed Washington would compete globally based on premium quality grapes; David Lake, MW, renowned for his experimentation with new varieties and for wine innovations; Bill Powers, pioneer of low-impact and organic viticulture; Myles Anderson, founder of the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College; George Carter, research partner of Clore; and Mike Hogue, whose vision helped define the Washington wine industry.
Hogue and other surviving inductees form the selection committee, and Cameron said the number of nominations considered each year ranges from three to six.
The number of candidates is limited because candidates must have been Washington residents for 25 years and involved in the wine industry for 25 years. There are no standing nominations, either, and candidates who are not selected will not be reconsidered for two years. Committee members independently review and rate the nominees. Cameron tabulates the votes.
A commissioned bronze piece of each inductee will be permanently displayed at the new Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center. Nomination forms and criteria are available on the Legends of Washington Wine drop-down list under the ‘Events’ tab.
Cameron, who worked six years on membership, marketing and event planning for the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C., said she looks forward to being able to handle more requests for Clore Center and Vineyard Pavilion.
“Two and half years ago, I was hired to run the Vineyard Pavilion for private events as a revenue stream,” she said. “We’ve used it for weddings, anniversaries and high school reunions, but for more business aspects, too. We’ve had the (Washington State) Wine Commission here for seminars and tastings, the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers and Wine Yakima Valley.
“People really seem to enjoy it and it feels comfortable for them there. And the sunsets are amazing,” she added. “It’s been really nice to have a venue that can provide that for people.”