Auction gives $200k to WSU for wine research

By on December 5, 2015
Washington State University Tri-Cities unveils the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Science Center on Thursday, June 4, 2015 in Richland, Wash. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Washington State University Tri-Cities unveils the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Science Center on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Richland, Wash. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

SEATTLE – The Auction of Washington Wines took place in August, and it just keeps on giving.

The Washington State Wine Commission announced this week that the Auction of Washington Wines has provided $200,000 to help support viticulture and enology research next year at Washington State University.

“Washington state’s wine industry is very appreciative of the Auction of Washington Wine’s Support,” said Steve Warner, president and executive director of the wine commission. “The contribution represents a significant proportion of funds that are annually spent on research projects and will allow funding of additional projects.”

With the opening this summer of the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Science Center on the WSU branch campus in Richland, wine research and education in the state have taken several steps forward, and this research money will be put to good use, said Thomas Henick-Kling, director of the Wine Science Center.

“This contribution is very important to our vision because it allows us to expand and strengthen our research program,” Henick-Kling said. “Additional research monies provide opportunity for long-term research planning and help support extension-type research.”

The Wine Science Center, which was completed this summer and opened for classes in August, cost $23 million to build and equip, with the vast majority of that money coming from wine industry sources.

Auction of Washington Wines tops record

Auction of Washington Wines

Several Washington winemakers gather on state at Chateau Ste. Michelle for a magnum auction item during the 2015 Auction of Washington Wines. (Photo by Great Northwest Wine)

This year’s Auction of Washington Wines raised more money than ever before. The three-day event in August that was topped by a gala auction at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville raised a record $2.5 million. That was up from $1.8 million last year.

Through the event’s 28-year history, it has raised more than $34 million. The majority of the funds raised is directed to Children’s Hospital in Seattle to help cover uncompensated care for children. In recent years, however, a portion of the proceeds have begun to fund research and education through WSU.

A few of the highlights from this year’s auction were:

  • Tribute dinner to John Sarich, culinary director for Chateau Ste. Michelle who died last fall. The dinner raised more than $20,000.
  • Luxury hockey night in Canada with the Aquilinis (owners of the Vancouver Canucks and several hundred acres of vineyards on Red Mountain) and DeLille Cellars in Woodinville.
  • An 18-liter bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon grown by honorary grower Dick Shaw and made by honorary vintner DeLille Cellars.
  • An African safari and wine touring experience for seven nights, provided by Steve and Bridgit Griessel, owners of Betz Family Winery in Woodinville.
  • A collection of 10 six-liter bottles from several top Walla Walla wineries, each adorned with original artwork created by Eric Dunham, who died last fall. Helping with this auction item on stage was actor Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks), owner of Pursued by Bear, a wine he produced with Dunham.
  • Columbia Winery raised $100,000 for the auction with its annual fun run.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.

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