The Port of Benton purchased 16 acres of land overlooking Prosser along the Yakima River to establish a central point of contact for visitors wanting to learn more about the Washington State wine industry. After several years of planning and construction, the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center was established. The center is named for Dr. Walter Clore who worked at the WSU – Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) near Prosser. At the center, Dr. Clore was surrounded by grapes being produced for the grape juice industry and wondered why they were not being grown for the wine industry. In 1960, he started testing over 250 varietals and hybrids based on latitude with other grape growing regions in Europe. In 1976, he retired and published his findings: “Ten Years of Grape Variety Responses and Wine-Making Trials in Central Washington.”
This publication was the basis for all vinifera grapes being grown in this region today and linked Dr. Clore as the Washington State ‘Father of the Wine Industry’.
The Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center formed a Board of Directors. Committees were chosen and in April of 2011 a $2 million grant was awarded to them by the State of Washington. Federal Economic Development Administration grant, Benton County, Port of Benton and private investment also provided additional funding.
The two facilities, the Vineyard Pavilion completed in 2012 and the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center completed in 2014 were managed by Marv Kinney, the Port’s Director of Special Projects.
The center has an outdoor event center, wine tasting room, retail sales, classrooms and a culinary section including a demonstration kitchen.
As published in The Re Port of Benton Spring 2014 newsletter.