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WSU, Wine Commission celebrate new science center with industry

Posted by | June 17, 2015
Elise Jackson, Barnard Griffin tasting room manager and WSU business and marketing alumna, receives a glass of celebratory sparkling wine from Les Walker, who graduated from the Viticulture and Enology Program last December.
Elise Jackson, Barnard Griffin tasting room manager and WSU business and marketing alumna, receives a glass of celebratory sparkling wine from Les Walker, who graduated from the Viticulture and Enology Program last December.

The Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Program and the Washington State Wine Commission welcomed the wine and grape industry to their new Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center on Friday, June 5, to celebrate the grand opening.

Over 100 guests enjoyed networking with other professionals while sipping premium Washington wine and touring the center’s research laboratories, winemaking facilities and classrooms that will help improve their products and train a skilled workforce. (View photos of the Wine Science Center industry open house on Facebook. Please help us identify people — tag yourself and your friends!)

Industry steers WSU wine research

WSU viticulture and enology research priorities are set on a two-year cycle by the Wine Advisory Committee. The committee is 10 industry members who review research proposals and make funding recommendations.

A 2008 Research Report, commissioned by the Washington wine industry, identified key research focus areas and concluded that the WSU research and teaching facilities available at that time “were inadequate to conduct the research needed by the industry for both today and tomorrow.” Research priorities include:
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Improving Washington’s distinct, premium wine

  • Identifying optimum locations for new vineyards and their best cultivar matches
  • Understand differentiation between vineyard sites and climates
  • Gain understanding on how flavors are formed on the vine and in winemaking
  • Improve wine microbiology management during wine production and aging, to deliver consistent and distinct flavor profiles free of defects

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Creating healthy plants, environmentally sustainable vineyards and flavorful grapes

  • Increasing profitability by finding new ways to keep soils healthy, reduce inputs, thwart pests, and nurture vigorous plants
  • Address issues of winter freeze damage unique to the growing region
  • Determine the link between vine nutrition and wine quality
  • Keeping vineyards healthy by preventing the spread of plant viruses, phylloxera, and other diseases
  • Better methods for diagnosing virus-infected grape vines

The 2008 report’s findings sparked the campaign for a wine science center in Washington, and the wine industry has played a major role in funding the new facility.

-Erika Holmes