SEATTLE, Wash. — The sixth annual A Celebration of Washington Wines dinner and auction held Saturday night at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville, Wash. raised a total of $235,023 to benefit the Viticulture and Enology Program at Washington State University.
With this year’s proceeds, the annual gala has grossed more than $1 million over its six-year history to benefit the program that trains aspiring wine makers and grape growers through certificate programs and a four-year horticulture degree.
Proceeds of this year’s event will provide the foundation for an endowment fund for a chair in the Viticulture and Enology Program, according to Dan Bernardo, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. The goal is to raise more than $1.5 million to fund the endowment, he said.
“The wine industry is the fastest growing segment in Washington state agriculture and they need a well-trained workforce to continue to grow and expand,” Bernardo said. “This endowment will be used to attract a world-class leader for this growing program who is an internationally recognized scientist and possesses the expertise to expand research and marketing activities within the program.”
This year’s attendance was the largest in the event’s history, according to Nancy Harnasch, chair of A Celebration of Washington Wines event committee.
“Well over 200 people attended, and the event was sold out a week before the reservation deadline,” Harnasch said. “This event keeps growing and getting better every year.”
Renowned German crystal maker Schott Zwiesel provided $9,000 in fine crystal stemware that was used at the auction, and is a permanent donation to WSU’s Viticulture and Enology Program.
A complete set of Schott Zwiesel Top Ten Series Triton crystal stemware also drew the highest bid of all of the auction items at $5,000.
Among the most popular items in the auction again this year was the CEO Collection. CEOs of some of the state’s leading businesses and corporations donated bottles of their favorite premium Washington wines to create two outstanding mixed collections. The two lots brought in a total of $7,250.
Other auction items attracting the highest bids included a collection of Col Solare wines and dinner for 12 at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery with winery president Ted Baseler and his wife Joanne, a dinner with incoming WSU president Elson Floyd and his wife Carmento at their Pullman residence, and a charter flight for six to a 2007 Cougar home football game courtesy of Galvin Flying Service.
Washington’s wine industry grew out of research done at WSU more than a half-century ago that determined that premium European wine grape varietals could be successfully grown in the state.
Washington currently is second only to California in domestic wine production and its wines are internationally known for their premium quality. According to the Washington Wine Commission, the wine industry’s total economic benefit to the state is estimated at $3 billion annually. More than 30,000 acres in the state are in wine grape production.