Wine gala benefits scholarships, endowment

RICHLAND – This year’s Celebrate Washington Wine gala and auction held on Saturday, Jan. 30, at Woodinville’s Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery raised more than $240,000. Proceeds from the sold-out event will benefit the WSU Viticulture and Enology Program.
Net proceeds will combine with funding pledged by the Washington Wine Education Foundation to help complete the endowment for the program’s chair, as well as providing funding for undergraduate scholarships, educational exchange programs and equipment for the program.
Thomas Henick-Kling, director of WSU’s Viticulture and Enology  Program, said the generosity of auction donors and attendees will go far in strengthening the popular and growing program.
“It is with their help that WSU is able to create a perfect pairing – a world-class viticulture and enology program in partnership with Washington’s world-class wine industry,” he said.
For the second year, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates teamed up with Youngs-Columbia Distributers and nearly 200 northwest restaurants and wine shops to contribute a portion of their fall wine sales to the program. The promotion contributed $40,000 to the total proceeds.
The Wine Spectator’s top wine of 2009 proved to be one of the most popular auction items. A rare 1.5 liter etched magnum of Columbia Crest 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, valued at $350, went for $2,750.
This year, several seniors in the Viticulture and Enology Program attended the event, escorting guests from the entry into the gala. It provided them with the opportunity to meet wine industry leaders and for guests to learn more about how their contributions benefit the program and students.
Planning is already underway for the 10th anniversary Celebrate Washington Wine event scheduled for Jan. 22, 2011.