RICHLAND, Wash.- The economic impact of Washington's wine industry has more than tripled over the last five years.
And as the industry continues to blossom, the need for people with experience in viticulture and enology continues to grow as well.
WSU Tri-Cities says they are seeing that growth in their wine programs and the availability of scholarships supporting students in the field.
"It's big business for the state of Washington," said Sharon Holden with WSU Tri-Cities.
"We know that the industry is growing. We know it need those qualified graduates. So scholarships help them pursue career tracks where they're going to get employed, said Holden."
The President of the Washington State Wine Commission, Steve Warner said, "When you look at the numbers of wineries growing say around 40 in 1983, 25 years ago to almost 700 to 800 now. We need to get talent. We need to get educated, skilled people in the industry to sustain the growth."
To handle that growth, WSU is building a new $23.2 million wine science center at the Tri-Cities campus to focus on research and education in viticulture, enology and wine business management.
"One mechanism is to attract students from within the state as well as outside the state to come here get the skill they need in order to sustain our industry and the other angel we're taking is through infrastructure and investment," said Warner.
Holden says these new wine scholarships are critical to supporting students' success.
Between WSU Pullman and Tri-Cities, they award around $30-thousand worth of scholarships.
That's just the half of it, the wine industry itself also provides scholarships from various AVA groups, local wineries, and the Washington State Wine Commission.
"California is number one in the country in the quantity and production of wine. We're number two, but we're about premium," said Holden.