Wine education center in Prosser plans grand opening

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMay 26, 2014 

Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center's tasting room is finally ready to kick off featuring wines from all of the state's wine grape-growing regions.

The grand opening of the long-awaited Prosser education center is being celebrated 1 to 3 p.m. Friday at 2140 Wine Country Road.

The center quietly started operating earlier this year, playing host to a variety of events, including weddings, reunions, dinners using the center's culinary kitchen and spring barrel tasting.

But now that April Reddout is onboard as the Prosser center's tasting room manager and has set up the tasting room in the past two months, members of the nonprofit board that operates the center are ready to celebrate.

"We are just putting some finishing touches on things," said Abbey Cameron, the center's director.

And Saturday, they will kick off pouring wines from the first of the state's 13 growing regions, Cameron said.

Each region will be featured for a month. June's growing region is the Puget Sound.

Cameron said the Puget Sound has some unique wines made from its grapes, including white varieties Siegerrebe, Madeleine Angevine and Muller Thurgau and the red Pinot Noir. The climate makes it distinctly different from Eastern Washington growing areas.

The center's tasting room fee is $5. Cameron said the center's liquor license does not allow it to waive tasting room fees like wineries can. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily starting May 31.

They will be selling bottles of the wines being tasted each month for the same price as at in the wineries' tasting rooms, she said. That way, the center is like a second, brand-neutral tasting room for wineries.

The retail shop near the tasting bar also will feature Washington state food items and some student-made wines from academic programs, Cameron said.

Diahann Howard, the Port of Benton's director of economic development and governmental affairs, expects the Clore center will become a great destination that will complement existing wineries. The port owns the property and the center.

Construction of the $4 million facility was paid for by a $2 million federal grant, a $1.4 million state grant and fundraising by the volunteer board.

It's exciting to see it all come together, Howard said.

The state Department of Transportation is expected soon to install attraction signs for the Clore center near exit 82 on Interstate 82, Cameron said. There also will be signs on the exit ramp.

In another month or two, a monument sign for the Clore center is to be installed on Wine Country Road.

The nonprofit board is working on selecting a company to create the center's exhibits. Some temporary exhibits are in place for the grand opening, Cameron said.

The center, which aims to tell the story of the state's wine industry, honors Clore, who worked at Washington State University's Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center north of Prosser and helped prove that wine grapes would be a viable crop in the Columbia Valley.

"We really just want to be a fun place for an educational Washington wine experience," Cameron said.

At the grand opening, Pixelsoft Films of Kennewick will record memories people want to share about Clore, who died in 2003.

Cameron said they are working on putting together programs people can sign up for such as a sushi class and blind Syrah tastings. Those will be up on the center's website, at www.theclorecenter.org.

Donations to support the center, which expects a budget shortfall in the first year, are still needed. To donate, go to www.theclorecenter.org/home/donate or call 509-786-1000.

-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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