Some things just go together. They complement each other’s best qualities to create something greater than the sum of their parts. The result? A perfect pairing.
Such is the case with Washington State University and the Washington State wine industry. For more than 60 years, WSU scientists have joined forces with wine grape growers and winemakers in the state to create the second largest wine industry in North America and an up-and-comer in international wine circles.
From modest beginnings rooted in cutting-edge science and hard work, Washington’s wine industry has grown into a $3 billion-per-year enterprise. It includes more than 600 wineries and 11 distinct, federally-designated American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs. And every year, especially since the 1970s, its reputation and recognition for quality increases.
WSU’s role in the state’s wine industry has grown as well. WSU offers the only four-year degree in viticulture and enology in the region, preparing future leaders for the industry in state and out. Its scientists conduct research on everything from tannins and grape-leaf roll to yeast viability and deficit irrigation in vineyards. WSU also hired one of the world’s premier wine scientists, Thomas Henick-Kling, to lead its program in the 21st Century; he has spent the past several months visiting with industry representatives in every wine-growing area of the state.
“I am impressed by the enthusiasm and the energy of the people I have met all across the state for continuing to refine and expand their industry,” he said. “Even with its success over the past 30 years, the industry remains dynamic and forward looking, and there is plenty of opportunity for significant continued growth.”