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WSU Strengthens Wine Program

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University officials want to have the nation’s premier teaching, research and extension program in viticulture and enology.

Raymond J. Folwell
Raymond J. Folwell. Click image for a larger version

With $1 million in new funding, five new faculty positions and appointment of a coordinator whose duties will cut across most departments in the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, WSU plans to enhance its program in support of Washington’s wine industry.

“Our goal is to become the best viticulture and enology program in the United States, to support Washington’s world-class wine grape industry, said Raymond Folwell, recently appointed director of the program.

Dean James J. Zuiches recently announced Folwell’s appointment.

Folwell will coordinate all viticulture and enology efforts at WSU. This includes activities of 14 faculty members. He has been a WSU faculty member since 1968 and has played a key role in the university’s support of the wine industry, which is one of the state’s largest agricultural sectors.

The wine sector in Washington’s agricultural economy is growing rapidly and enjoys excellent prospects for continued growth.

Wine grapes are grown on about 30,000 acres. In 2002, more than 300 growers received nearly $101 million for their grapes, Folwell said. Washington has more than 240 wineries and the industry’s total value to the state’s economy is estimated at $2.4 billion. An estimated 11,000 Washington workers are employed as a result of the industry.

The industry is concentrated in the Columbia Basin and in the Wenatchee, Yakima and Walla Walla valleys.

A consortium of wine industry and educational institutions helped obtain new funding from the legislature in 2003, to strengthen WSU’s program. Permanent funding has been established for two positions in WSU Cooperative Extension, one each in viticulture, enology, sensory food science and virology.

Folwell said WSU is developing agreements with Walla Walla and Yakima community colleges so their students can earn a four-year degree at WSU, specializing in viticulture and enology.

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