PULLMAN, Wash. – For the second year, the gala “A Celebration of Washington Wines” auction and dinner has brought in a total of $235,000 to benefit the Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Program. Nearly 200 people attended the seventh annual gala held Jan. 26 at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville, Wash.
Over its seven-year history, the annual event has grossed more than $1 million to benefit the WSU program that trains aspiring wine makers and grape growers through certificate programs and a four-year horticulture degree.
“This year’s proceeds will continue to build the endowment fund for the world-renowned chair in viticulture and enology that we are currently recruiting,” said Dan Bernardo, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “Thanks to both those who attended and those who donated to the auction for helping WSU to create a ‘perfect pairing’ of a world-class viticulture and enology program in partnership with Washington’s world-class wine industry.”
Two auction items were so popular in the bidding that their donors agreed to donate the items again.
A reception and gourmet dinner for ten hosted by Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Scott Carson at the private Boeing suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle was valued at $3,000 but fetched $4,000 in a spirited round of bidding. Carson agreed to donate another reception and dinner for the same amount.
Also highly popular on the block was “a spirited evening of Washington wine as East meets West.” WSU Cougar alums Ted and JoAnne Baseler of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery and UW Husky alums Bob and Cathy Betz of the Betz Family Winery donated the gourmet dinner and wine tasting for eight. The package, which included four signed magnums of exceptional wines from each winery, drew a winning bid of $6,000, double its $3,000 value. So the Baselers and the Betz family offered a second package for the same price.
Another top item with bidders was a Cougar home game football weekend for six with WSU President Elson S. Floyd. The package included a pre-football dinner at the home of the president and his wife, tickets to the president’s pre-game reception and the opportunity to watch a game from the President’s Box in Martin Stadium. Valued at $1,500, the football weekend drew a winning bid of $3,500.
WSU and the Washington wine industry have a long history together. 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 is second only to California in domestic wine production, and its wines are internationally known for their premium quality. A recent analysis pegged the wine industry’s total economic benefit to the state at $3 billion annually. Today, there are more than 500 wineries in the state and more than 30,000 acres in wine grape production.