Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center opens today in Prosser

By on May 30, 2014
The Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser, Wash., officially will turn from artist's rendering into reality when it opens to the public today.

The Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser, Wash., officially will turn from artist’s rendering into reality when it opens to the public today. (Image courtesy of Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center)

PROSSER, Wash — It’s been more than 10 years in the making, so it’s appropriate that glasses filled with Columbia Crest 2010 Walter Clore Private Reserve will be raised today for the grand opening of the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center.

Ribbon cutting is set for 1 p.m. today in Prosser, which served as home to the Washington State University researcher who is revered as the father of the Washington wine industry.

Clore died in 2003 at the age 92. He began his work for the college in 1933 and moved to the school’s research station in Prosser four years later. Clore retired in 1976 but then began to consult for Chateau Ste. Michelle. Among his accomplishments were collaborating with Wade Wolfe on the petition for the Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area.

Starting Saturday, the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, where it will present Washington state wines, some of them from vineyards that Clore consulted on. There is no entry fee, and visitors will be able to sample a variety of wines for a $5 tasting fee.

Initially, the Clore Center was going to feature underground caves and elevators at a cost exceeding $10 million. The economy changed, and the list of amenities was scaled down. Cost for the new building came in at $4 million. Expenses for the entire project — a partnership with the Port of Benton and private supporters — have been valued at $7 million, including the Vineyard Pavilion, which opened in 2011.

Clore Center tasting room to spotlight Puget Sound wines during June

Walter Clore was the father of Washington wine.

Walter Clore, known as “the father of Washington wine,” was a viticulture researcher who convinced farmers to grow wine grapes. He died in 2003. (Photo courtesy of Washington State University)

The Clore Center, a 16-acre complex overlooking the Yakima River just west of Desert Wind Winery, will feature exhibits that focus on the Washington state wine and agriculture industries, a tasting area for wine and regional food, a demonstration kitchen and retail space. In conjunction with the pavilion, the complex also offers indoor and outdoor venues for conferences, classes, meetings, business and social events.

Among the wine country caterers providing appetizers today are Bon Vino’s Bistro and Bakery in Sunnyside, Castle Event Catering in Richland, Country Gentleman Catering in Kennewick and Mojave at Desert Wind in Prosser.

Each month, the tasting room spotlights wines from a specific region of the state, and the Puget Sound will be featured during the month of June.

A focal point of the center will be a display dedicated to Clore’s research for WSU on behalf of vineyard managers and winemakers, and today’s guests are invited to step into the video booth and offer a tribute or remembrance of Dr. Clore.

On Aug. 8, Allen Shoup will be inducted into Washington Wine Hall of Fame at the Clore Center. The founder of Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla and former CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is credited with recruiting Clore to work on the Columbia Valley AVA petition. Recent induction ceremonies for the Washington Wine Hall of Fame have been held in the Vineyard Pavilion.

Shoup retired from Ste. Michelle in 2000 while the inaugural vintage of the Walter Clore Private Reserve remained in barrel. A year later, Doug Gore and his winemaking team at Columbia Crest debuted the 1999 Walter Clore, a blend of Bordeaux varieties.

Earlier this year, the Clore Center played host to its first event on Jan. 28 with the Prosser Chamber of Commerce’s Community Awards Banquet, but the tasting room was not ready for the public.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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