WALLA WALLA -- Walla Walla Community College's Center for Enology and Viticulture has hired a new director.
Alan Busacca, a former Washington State University geology professor who now co-owns a vineyard near The Dalles and a winery in Bingen, will take the helm of the community college program in July.
Busacca will replace Myles Anderson, who is retiring in June.
For Anderson, this is the third time he will be leaving the program. Anderson, who co-owns Walla Walla Vintners, has been teaching at the community college since 1977. He launched the wine program in 2000, then retired in 2006, leaving it in the hands of longtime Washington winemaker, grape grower and educator Stan Clarke. When Clarke died in 2007, Anderson returned.
The college then hired Valerie Fayette, who came from Chateau Ste. Michelle, so Anderson retired again. She left in 2011, and Anderson came back again.
Busacca, 62, left WSU in 2006 after teaching geology there for 25 years. In the past 15 years, Busacca has become an important figure in the Washington wine industry, thanks to his expertise in soil science and how Eastern Washington was changed by the Ice Age floods about 15,000 years ago.
As a consultant, Busacca has written the petitions for two American Viticultural Areas, which are federally recognized wine grape regions. He wrote the Wahluke Slope and Lake Chelan petitions and contributed to the Horse Heaven Hills and Rattlesnake Hills petitions. He recently submitted a petition for the proposed Lewis-Clark Valley AVA, which would be in Washington and Idaho near Clarkston and Lewiston.
Since leaving WSU, Busacca has partnered with Oregon grape grower Lonnie Wright to plant Volcano Vineyard near The Dalles. He also partnered with Yakima Valley winemaker Robert Smasne to launch AlmaTerra, a 600-case winery. Busacca manages the tasting room in Bingen, which will close at the end of May. However, Busacca and Smasne say they will continue to produce the AlmaTerra wines.
With WSU building the Wine Science Center on its Richland campus, Busacca sees an opportunity to use his ties to the university to let the two programs work together.
"It will be critical for us to forge a relationship with WSU," he said.
-- Andy Perdue is editor of Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company.