Wine Science Center a boon to state viticulture, enology industry

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The region’s wine leaders realized several years ago that an investment in students and research would ultimately lead to a more lucrative statewide industry.

The students have come and the research is underway with the opening of the Washington State University Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Science Center in Richland.

“Industry leaders said, ‘We have more than 900 wineries in the state, we need qualified people to work in our vineyards and wineries, and we need research,’ ” said Kaury Balcom, WSU public relations and communications coordinator for the viticulture and enology program.

The center opened in 2015, thanks to more than $23 million in industry funding, Balcom said. Every worldwide wine area has a university for research, so it was a necessary and natural step, with Washington being the second largest premium wine producer and largest grape producer in the nation, she said.

The 40,000-square-foot wine center in north Richland provides viticulture and enology professionals with a teaching winery, research laboratories, classrooms and meeting spaces.

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Audra Distifeno

Audra Distifeno

Audra Distifeno has been in the “news” business for more than 20 years. She is passionate about writing, and is also an educator with the goal of igniting young minds so they might discover their potentials. She lives in the Yakima Valley with her children, two mini schnauzers, two lizards and multitudes of fish. She enjoys camping, kayaking and breathing in the ocean air. She hopes to one day be a published novelist and see her work being read by the masses … or even by just one who is moved by her story.

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