State University played a key role in helping Washington's wine
grape industry grow from 500 acres and 20 licensed wineries in 1968
to 30,000 acres and more than 240 wineries today. In the process,
the quality of Washington's premium wines has achieved world acclaim.
industry returned $103 million to growers in 2003, providing 11,000
jobs and an estimated $2.4 billion to the state's economy. The industry
is heavily concentrated in eastern Washington with new growth in
the Puget Sound.
no one is resting on their laurels. With help from the state legislature
in the form of $1 million in new funding appropriated in 2003, the
university is reorganizing its efforts to take its viticulture and
enology programs to the very top in education and research.
1,200% increase in wineries and a 6,000% increase in vineyard acreage
notwithstanding, Washington has almost unlimited potential for expansion
of its wine industry.
assessment was made by the late Walter Clore, the "Johnny Grapeseed"
of Washington's wine industry, shortly before his death in 2003
at the age of 91.
Clore's influence was enormous. He tested varieties of grape stock
throughout Washington's many microclimates and became an apostle
for Washington wines. Under his influence and that of several other
WSU faculty, the industry grew from a footnote in Washington agriculture
to become Washington's 11th most valuable crop, measured at the
Other key players from WSU include Enologist Charles
Nagel, Extension Food Scientist Sarah Spayd, Agricultural Economist
Ray Folwell, and Benton County Extension Chair Jack Watson.
wine growing regions
2003, the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource
Sciences reorganized all its viticulture and enology programs,
focusing them under Folwell as director. A total of 16 faculty
are involved in the programs and an additional five are being
added with the $1 million appropriation—two in extension
and three in teaching.
"Our goal is to make our viticulture and enology program the best
in the United States," Folwell says. Given the university's track
record of helping put the industry into the second highest orbit
in the United States, in essentially three short decades, that
doesn't seem especially boastful.
California grows more vinifera than Washington, and Washington
wines are going head-to-head with California's best wines and
those of Europe.