Washington Wine Industry Foundation awards 6 of its 7 scholarships to women

By on August 6, 2021
The Washington Wine Industry Foundation 2021 Scholarship winners are, clockwise from upper left, Bernadette Gagnier, Annette Loring, Heather Carbon, Danielle Fox, Bailey Hallwachs, Salvador Jimenez and Alexa McDaniel. (Photo courtesy of WWIF)

The photo collage of the seven Washington Wine Industry Foundation scholarship recipients for 2021 may say something about the state’s future — six of the winners are women.

That furthers a trend which no doubt delights the newly formed Alliance of Women in Washington Wine and its 300-plus donors.

Last year, the Washington Wine Industry Foundation awarded scholarships totaling $48,000 to 13 students. Nine of those were women. In 2019, nine of the 13 recipients also were women.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the WWIF. Understandably, the amount of scholarships awarded during 2021 slipped to $41,000, but it was still north of the $38,000 disbursed in 2018, when eight of the 12 recipients were women.

The organization’s stated goal is to help “fund solutions for the wine industry’s challenges, including the need for a future workforce that is well-educated and prepared to do great work. The Foundation’s Scholarship Program establishes, coordinates, manages and promotes scholarships for students pursuing degrees in industry-related fields. The Scholarship Program is made possible thanks to generous supporters in the wine industry.”

Since 2002, the WWIF has given out more $350,000 to more than 220 students. Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Washington Winegrowers Association, serves in the same capacity for the WWIF out of her headquarters in Cashmere. And those scholarships awarded by her board — five of the 12 directors are women — pay homage to some of the most important figures in the history of Washington wine.

The late Albert Don worked for Wyckoff Farms for more than three decades and gained a reputation as an innovator in the field of mechanized farming of wine grapes. The Washington Winegrowers Association named him the 2003 Grower of the Year. A graduate of Prosser High School, Don died earlier this year at the age of 65.

Four years ago, the George & Susan Carter Scholarship was created in honor of Washington State University research winemaker George Carter and his wife. He died in 2007 and was inducted into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame five years later.

The Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers formed its nonprofit group in 2005. Each year, the group uses its annual Trail Drive to raise scholarship funds for two students interested in viticulture, enology, wine business management or wine-related hospitality. The group’s stated preference is to recognize students who are residents of Klickitat, Benton or Yakima counties and have a parent employed in the state’s wine industry.

Next year will be the 25th anniversary of the Walter J. Clore Scholarship, which was established by the Washington Winegrowers Association to honor the pioneering work by the famed WSU grape researcher known as “the Father of the Washington wine industry.” He died in 2003 at the age of 92.

Perhaps the most impactful of the awards is the Foundation Fund Scholarship. The WWIF board of directors created it in 2013 as a fund endowed by the families and estates of Charles Lill (DeLille Cellars), Michael Manz (Mountain Dome Winery), winery executive Glenn Coogan and Alder Ridge Vineyard manager John Farmer as well as through other WWIF resources — including the popular Wine Cup Golf Tournament. Those scholarships range from $2,000 to $10,000 and go to students studying or researching viticulture, enology, wine business management at WSU or Central Washington University.

The 2021 Washington Wine Industry Foundation Scholarship winners are Bernadette Gagnier, Annette Loring, Heather Carbon, Danielle Fox, Bailey Hallwachs, Salvador Jimenez and Alexa McDaniel. Jimenez, a second-year student at Walla Walla Community College, is the only recipient not attending WSU.

For those seeking to join the ranks of these scholarship winners, the window for applications opens in November, which will most likely be after the 2021 crush.

Gagnier wins more 3 scholarships after military service

Bernadette Gagnier, who grew up not far from Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, served five years in the Marine Corps prior to becoming a wine science student at Washington State University Tri-Cities in Richland. (Photo courtesy Washington State University)

Gagnier, a Marine Corps veteran, received three awards — the George and Susan Carter Scholarship, the Albert Don Memorial Scholarship and a Foundation Fund Scholarship. She’s a Ph.D. candidate in horticulture at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser. Her research specializes in alternative strategies for nematode management in wine grape systems and is overseen by renowned plant pathologist Michelle Moyer.

Upon graduation from high school, Gagnier’s five years in the Marine Corps took her to Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and beyond. Not long after being discharged, Gagnier moved to the Tri-Cities for WSU’s wine program and began working in the tasting room at Kiona Vineyards. Among her personal highlights as an undergrad was meeting former defense secretary Jim Mattis, the retired four-star Marine general from Richland, in 2018. Last year, a Foundation Fund Scholarship also was provided to Gagnier, who goes by the nickname of “Bernie.” In 2019, she was named one of three WSU Tri-Cities Women of Distinction.

Loring grew up on a Columbia Basin family farm near Pasco then spent 18 years as a dental hygienist before deciding to study viticulture and enology at WSU Tri-Cities while raising three teens. She received the Walter J. Clore Scholarship and a Foundation Fund Scholarship.

Carbon, a Moses Lake native, graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in food science and is working on her master’s in food science at WSU’s Pullman campus. She’s focused on the effects of isolated non-Saccharomyces yeasts from Washington vineyards in different fermentation conditions. She was granted a Foundation Fund Scholarship.

Fox received a chemistry degree from Florida State. As a senior, she began working on phenotypical research with the native grape variety Muscadine and French-American hybrids at Florida A&M’s Grape and Small Fruit Research Center. That work led her to pursuit of a doctorate at WSU Tri-Cities that involves enological studies on wine aroma and alcohol content. She received a Horse Heaven Hills Scholarship and a Foundation Fund Scholarship.

Hallwachs graduated from the University of Wyoming, where her studies in agroecology and horticulture included grant-funded research to develop transgenic grapes that grow in the Cowboy State’s challenging climate. This summer, she began work at WSU on a Ph.D. to research the implications of grapevine red blotch virus on grapevine physiology and cellular structure using electron microscopy techniques. She was awarded a Foundation Fund Scholarship.

Jimenez, a second-year student at Walla Walla Community College’s Institute for Enology and Viticulture, wants to be the first person of Mexican heritage to become both a Master of Wine and a Master Sommelier. He grew up in Northern California and moved across the country where he worked in the New York City wine trade. An industry tasting of Baja wines produced from 120-year-old vines sparked his interest in making wine and matriculating to Walla Walla. Last year, he worked in the cellar at Doubleback. The 2021 harvest will see him on the crush pad at L’Ecole No. 41. He received a Foundation Fund Scholarship.

McDaniel grew up in Kennewick, and her résumé includes time as a tasting room manager for Alexandria Nicole Cellars. A horticulture-based biology degree at Oregon State prompted her to become a Ph.D. candidate in 2019 at WSU’s IAREC in Prosser. Her research, also overseen by Moyer, is focused on alternative sprayer management programs for pest control of powdery mildew and grape mealybug in vineyards. She received a Horse Heaven Hills Scholarship and — for the second straight year — a Foundation Fund Scholarship. Prior to that, she was awarded a prestigious Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) Fellowship for 2021-2024.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the President and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for a decade. He is a frequent wine judge at international wine competitions throughout North America and orchestrates 10 Northwest competitions each year.

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