Officials from Prosser and the Republic of Georgia will be toasting and savoring each other's wines in coming months as both governments participate in a federal exchange program.
Charlie Bush, Prosser's city manager, will spend a month in the Republic of Georgia next year, and Giorgi Ivaniadze, a member of the council for the town of Vani, will stay a month as an intern in Prosser beginning in October.
"We are excited to have the opportunity to participate in the exchange," said Mayor Paul Warden in a statement issued Wednesday.
The government exchange is sponsored and fully funded by the U.S. State Department, Bush said.
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Ivaniadze, 33, has a master's degree in international relations and law from Tbilisi State University. He has been on the council for Vani for many years since 1998. He has been chief of the department of public relations and communications and has been an advocate for consumer rights and youth education. He is married and has three children.
Bush, who has been Prosser's city manager since 2008 and previously was in Bellevue for six years, said Prosser and Georgia have a shared interest -- making wine.
Georgia is credited with being the first civilization to make wine some 7,000 years ago, and became known for it throughout the world by being on the Silk Road between Asia and Europe.
Georgia's vineyards include varieties of grapes grown nowhere else in the world, helping grow its wine tourism.
Bush said Prosser can claim being the birthplace of the Washington wine industry, is home to 31 wineries, including Wine Spectator Magazine's No. 1 rated wine in the world in 2009, and attracts about 40,000 wine tourists annually.
"We have a lot to learn and to offer ... including lessons in wine-focused and tourism-based economies, and (things) that can emerge from the innovation that often occurs when vastly different cultures connect their ideas," Bush said.
"He will be doing some projects here for us for a month, and then he and I will work together on a proposal involving the wine industry for Georgia. If the State Department accepts it, I'll be going over there for a couple of weeks," Bush said.
It will be Bush's first trip there. "The closest I've been to Georgia was Salzburg, Austria, when I traveled with my high school soccer team," he said.
Bush noted that other delegations from the Republic of Georgia have visited Prosser to see facilities associated with wine-making at Washington State University.
"(Ivaniadze) speaks fluent English, and we've been exchanging e-mails. We've learned we both enjoy basketball," Bush said.
One thing Bush wants to know more about from Ivaniadze is Old World architecture and designing cities around pedestrians.
"I'm really curious about Georgia's architecture. It's ancient," he said.