RICHLAND, Wash. - Washington produces more wine than almost any other state in the nation. Second only to California, the industry here is still rather new and one thing we don't have that the Golden State does is research. But that is about to change.
"Washington, I am convinced, makes some of the best wines in the world. But because they don't have that research arm, we aren't taken seriously by a lot of people in the industry," said Stacie Hamilton.
She and her husband, Russ Hamilton, co-own Hamilton Cellars in Richland. They opened that winery a few years ago and now they're giving back in a big way.
"The newest other gift that came in just a week or so ago is Hamilton Cellars. Russ and Stacie Hamilton committed $100,000 and that is a huge gift for a very small winery and we're very, very appreciative to them," said Sharon Holden of WSU Tri-Cities.
"I have a winemakers certificate from UC Davis. When I was going through that two year program, I heard more often than not that you can't grow good grapes in Washington," said Hamilton.
She aims to prove those nay-sayers wrong. In all, the Wine Science Center will be a $23-million facility. Another recent donation came from California sister companies, Cooperages 1912 and Oak Solutions Group. They've pledged $250,000 and ten years of barrell sponsorship. As of right now, there is only about $4 million left to raise.
"About two million is just to complete the construction of the facility. And two million more is for some critical research equipment but it comes down every week, thanks to the support of the community," said Holden.
The research done at the wine science center will legitimize Washington's wine industry, as well as improve the quality.
Next Thursday Governor Jay Inslee will be on hand at the center's ground-breaking ceremony.