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Les Dames Establishes WSU Viticulture and Enology Endowment

PULLMAN, Wash. — When Kay Simon graduated from the fermentation science program at the University of California Davis some 30 years ago she was one of two women in a class of 45.

“I’m told they are graduating about half and half now,” said Simon, who is co-owner of and winemaker for Chinook Wines in Prosser, Wash. “I believe it’s important to encourage women to enter the field of winemaking, a field that involves science and physical hard work.”

Simon is a member of the Seattle Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, and was one of the advocates for the $25,000 endowment the organization has just established through the Washington State University Foundation. The endowment will provide scholarships to qualified female students in the university’s viticulture and enology program.

Les Dames d’Escoffier International is a prestigious worldwide organization of professional women with a record of achievement in the multi-disciplinary culinary professions, including food, fine beverages and hospitality. Those invited to join must have demonstrated not only professional achievement, but also a commitment to contributing to their communities.

Scholarships from the Les Dames endowment will be awarded to offset tuition for women who are Washington state residents, already enrolled in the viticulture and enology program, and taking a minimum of 12 credit hours total coursework. To qualify, applicants must have completed one semester, maintain a 3.0 grade point, and demonstrate financial need.

Members of the Seattle chapter of Les Dames will select the recipient of each scholarship from three students nominated by the director of the program. Recipients will be encouraged to become active in the Les Dames mentoring program and to give back to future students.

The Seattle Chapter of Les Dames has contributed more than $100,000 to endowments and scholarships in the state over the past 15 years, according to chapter president Joy Gulmon-Huri, director of the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central Community College.

“We would like to see the state’s wine industry continue to grow, and WSU has excellent credentials,” said Gulmon-Huri. “We’re thrilled about getting into the area of viticulture and enology. This is just the beginning for us.”

Chinook Wine’s Kay Simon was a strong advocate within the Les Dames for establishing the endowment.

“Anything we can do to encourage women in this profession is worthwhile,” she said. “Its exciting that establishing this endowment coincides with the fulfillment of WSU’s viticulture and enology program.”

For the first time this year WSU offers a four-year degree program in the fields of viticulture or enology. The program already offers two-year certificate programs in either field in conjunction with a number of the state’s community colleges.

Ray Folwell, director of the viticulture and enology program agrees that the timing is good for having the endowment established. “This will only help attract students to the program and help us meet our goals,” Folwell said.

More information about the WSU viticulture and enology program can be found at http://www.wineeducation.wsu.edu.

Anyone interested in contributing to the endowment should contact the WSU Foundation at 509/335-6686 or foundation@wsu.edu.

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