Washington Launches Construction Of Wine Science Center

Gov. Jay Inslee breaks ground for the Richland project.

Published on: Sep 17, 2013

Washington's new Wine Science Center in Richland will soon become a reality.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and other dignitaries joined in a ground-breaking event late last month to dig the first dirt on the Washington State University campus site.

The Wine Science Center will be a pivotal research and teaching facility helping grape growers and winemakers find solutions to the biggest problems they face. Some comments say work at the center can triple the value of the state's $8.6 billion wine industry by 2020.

"Having this research facility is critical to the continued growth of our Pacific Northwest wine industry," says Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, a WSU regent and chair of the university's Campaign for Wine.

Washingtons new Wine Center is under construction in Richland.
Washington's new Wine Center is under construction in Richland.

The $23 million center is planned to include 39,000 square feet, and will include a teaching/research winery, research labs, classrooms, conference areas and a regional and international wine library.

The lobby will provide visitors with views of the winery. Completion is set for 2015.

"Research will ensure that we produce the best wine grapes," assures Baseler. "Research will then help us make great wines with distinct flavors that become sought after internationally. This facility and the teaching program at WSU will produce a workforce pipeline of trained WSU graduates – for our vineyards, for our wineries – and all the allied industries that work with us."

A Wine Science Center Development Authority established to bring Richland into the project resulted in the city donating land for the construction at the Port of Benton. Fund-raising and financing is led by WSU, which has been involved in wine-related research since the 30's as the only university in the PNW offering bachelor's degrees in viticulture and enology, and in wine business management.

Our thanks to  WSU's Melissa O'Neil Perdue for information in this article.