PROSSER -- Officials with the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center have completed the interview process for an architect and should announce a hire in January for the planned multimillion dollar Prosser facility.
The center announced Monday that it has acquired enough funding to make the move, said Kathy Corliss, the project's director of administration.
The Clore board of directors and the Port of Benton are in negotiations, she told the Herald.
The new architect will design the plans and oversee construction for what is being billed as a first-of-its-kind wine education and showcase center in Washington. A satellite building already sits on the 24 acres along the Yakima River, with views of the Horse Heaven Hills and Rattlesnake Ridge.
"We think it's huge," Corliss said. "It's been a long and arduous process and we're very excited about the progress."
The project has secured $5.3 million in funding, which includes $3.4 million in state and federal grants.
The goal of the project is to reach $6.3 million, and $1.7 million has been spent on site infrastructure and the Vineyard Pavilion, a 2,400-square-foot building with covered patios that opened this summer as an outdoor event facility.
The Legends of Washington Wine gala and the annual Prosser Wine & Food Fair moved permanently to the grounds of the Vineyard Pavilion. It has room for about 50 people inside and another 150 outside. It is available to the public for event rental.
The selected architect will provide design, plans and specifications for the Clore center, along with construction management services.
Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2012. Ideally, it would be done before the summer of 2013, though Corliss said it could be later that year.
The conceptual 15,000-square-foot building and grounds will offer several indoor and outdoor venues including a tasting room, demonstration kitchen, agriculture and viticulture exhibits, classrooms, conference rooms, office space, retail shop, instructional vineyards, interpretive and production gardens and a walkway along the Yakima River.
"We just want to make sure that the region knows that it's not just about the immediate region and the immediate vicinity, that it's to represent the whole state," Corliss said.
The center is named after the late Walter J. Clore, whose research for Washington State University served as a key component to the growth of the Washington wine industry. He began working in Prosser in 1937 and died in 2003.
Financial contributions to the Clore Center are tax deductible because it is a nonprofit organization. For more information or to make a contribution, go to the website at www.theclorecenter.org.