Sunday marked the official 25th anniversary of the Washington State Wine Commission. To celebrate this milestone, the Commission today launched a new website to honor 25 of the wine industry’s “groundbreakers” – a collection of industry members that have been involved in grape growing or winemaking in Washington State for at least the past 25 years.
Profiles of the first five “groundbreakers” are now live, and new profiles will be posted each month. The first group of honorees includes Bill Powers of Badger Mountain Vineyard and Powers Winery (Kennewick, Wash.), Bob Betz, MW of Betz Family Winery (Woodinville, Wash.), Kay Simon and Clay Mackey of Chinook Wines (Prosser, Wash.), Mike Conway of Latah Creek Winery (Spokane, Wash.), and Norm McKibben of Pepper Bridge and SeVein Vineyards (Walla Walla, Wash.). These profiles can be found at washingtonwine.org/25.
While certainly not an all-inclusive group, these essays aim to highlight a diverse cross-section of industry veterans that have helped to shape the past quarter century of Washington State wine. Seattle-based writer Leslie Kelly has been commissioned to write these vignettes, which are the result of interviews with each grower or winemaker.
In 1987, the Washington State legislature recognized that “the production of wine grapes in the state is a new and important segment of Washington agriculture which has potential for greater contribution to the economy of the state if it undergoes healthy development” and created the Washington State Wine Commission to represent every winery and wine grape grower and champion the marketing goals of the Washington State wine industry.
In the last 25 years the industry has seen tremendous growth in both numbers and sophistication, growing from around 40 wineries in the late 1980s to nearly 750 wineries today. This year the Commission celebrates the past 25 years – and looks forward to the next 25 years and beyond – by honoring the many great strides made in the Washington State wine industry.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the industry’s largest charitable event – the Auction of Washington Wines. With over $26 million donated to uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and an additional portion given to the Washington Wine Education Foundation, the Auction of Washington Wines is considered the region’s most prestigious charity wine event. More information on the many events of the Auction of Washington Wines can be found at auctionofwashingtonwines.org.