Wine center holds grand opening (w/ gallery)

PROSSER -- The Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser is having a grand opening today for its outdoor event facility.

The 2,400-square-foot building and covered patios are the initial structure for what is anticipated to be a multimillion-dollar wine education and showcase facility, the first of its kind in Washington.

Representatives of Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., will be joined by 8th District state Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, in recognizing the potential for the center on 24 acres along the Yakima River in Prosser.

The center's namesake, Walter Clore, worked at the Washington State University Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, and was recognized by the state Legislature as the father of Washington wine.

Marv Kinney, acting executive director for the center, said the outdoor facility already has seen activity this spring with events for international wine buyers and other wine associations.

The facility, which has room for about 50 people inside and another 150 outside, also is available to the public for rent for special events.

Today's grand opening at 11 a.m. will include remarks from Scott Keller, executive director for the Port of Benton, Mike Hogue, co-chairman for the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center, port Commissioner Jane F. Hagarty and Nancy Dexter of the Walter Clore family.

The center is off exit 82 on Interstate 82. Turn west on Wine Country Road and then right at the first intersection.

Kinney said design has started on the 15,000 square-foot main facility that will feature Washington's premium wine and food products and help educate the public about wine/agri-tourism industries.

The state has approved $1.4 million and the federal Economic Development Administration is providing $2 million for the project. An ongoing capital campaign to raise $1.7 million in private contributions will be for furniture, fixtures and equipment.