Our Voice: Clore center celebrates wines of Washington

Some long-awaited, high-profile projects are coming to fruition this year.

We'll be celebrating the debut of the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center in about a month, later this year the Carousel of Dreams will open and the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center marked its grand opening Friday.

Both projects struggled for years before redirection and more realistic plans brought them to life under strong leadership. We'll be writing plenty about The Reach in the coming weeks. Today we celebrate the Clore center in Prosser, which will teach people about the wines of Washington state.

Walter Clore was a renowned pioneer in the wine industry who worked at Washington State University's Irrigated Agriculture Research & Education Center in Prosser. He died in 2003, but the impact of his legacy will be felt for generations to come.

While the center opened for business earlier this year, it did so quietly with some items still in progress, building up to the public grand opening.

The $4 million facility was funded with federal and state grants and donations. The center is operated by a nonprofit organization and the land and building are owned by the Port of Benton.

The center will feature a different one of the state's 13 growing regions in its tasting room each month.

June's feature is the Puget Sound, an area which grows some different varietals in a cooler and wetter climate than most of us are used to.

White grape varieties grown there include Siegerrebe, Madeleine Angevine and Muller Thurgau. Pinot Noir, a red favorite which prefers weather like the Puget Sound or the Willamette Valley, also will be featured.

The tasting room fee is $5 and the hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The facility also can be rented for private events and already has hosted a number of weddings, receptions and special events. Some cooking classes are planned as well, and Washington-made food products will be sold in the retail shop as well as some student-made wines.

The center has plans eventually for permanent educational exhibits about Washington wine, and even an aroma wheel to help tasters identify characteristics of the wines they sample. For the grand opening, temporary exhibits are in place.

The Clore center is exciting as a tourism destination but it's also just as exciting for us locals. We'll have the opportunity to sample wines from across the state in our own backyard, and take some fun cooking classes all while celebrating one of our top agricultural products.

The educational component will help elevate our knowledge and enjoyment of wine.

The cool part for our wineries is that the month their region is featured, they will basically have a second tasting room in the heart of Washington wine country. Their primary location may be in a part of the state some of us won't get to and this will be a great introduction to some new wineries. The wines will be available for purchase during the featured month.

To all of the board members, fundraisers, visionaries and staff who made the Clore center a reality, we say thank you. The impact on the wine industry will be significant and raise its profile to a broader audience.

And to the man who made the Washington wine industry we now enjoy a reality, we'll raise a glass to Walter Clore on our first visit.