State government investing in local wine and future wine makers - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

State government investing in local wine and future wine makers

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RICHLAND, Wash.-- The wine industry in Washington continues to grow and bring in more dollars to the state's economy. Friday, Governor Chris Gregoire visited the Tri-Cities to celebrate a new investment in the wine industry that will put our state on the global map.

Governor Gregoire visited the site of the future WSU Tri-Cities Wine Science Center Friday for a ceremonial signing of a five million dollar investment by the Washington legislature. It's one of many steps the state is taking to invest in Washington wine, an investment that Gregoire says will yield a big return for our economy.

"It is absolutely the investment for the future of Washington state. This industry and the economy, particularly here in Eastern Washington, but actually across the whole state. So I'm very proud of our legislature for stepping up and investing in our future," Gregoire said.

Governor Gregoire says it's time for our state to not just produce great wine, but also great wine makers to meet the same level of wine expertise that is found in Northern California and at schools like UC Davis.

"We need to do the kind of research and development that's an opportunity for us to continue to be number one in the world in terms of quality. So this is a tremendous investment in our industry," Gregoire said.

A five million dollar commitment from the state legislature will help WSU's Wine Science Center become a reality. And a two million dollar grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration will push them even closer toward that goal.

The governor says we can't drop the ball on the progress we've made because the wine industry is now a fruitful part of our economy.

"As I travel the world it's very clear Washington state has become known around the globe for producing the finest wine. That's not something we want to give up on because it's going to draw more tourism here to the Tri-Cities and much of Eastern Washington," Gregoire said.

Governor Gregoire is leaving office in January, but she's confident the work she's done for Washington's wine industry will live on.

"I'll always be a proponent for Washington wine. Make no mistake I will always be the number one champ," Gregoire said.

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