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Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010

Construction to start on next phase of Prosser wine center

PROSSER -- Construction is expected to start soon on the next phase of what backers say will be the state's premier educational and promotional center for Washington's wines and food products.

Bids are to be opened Wednesday for a 2,400-square-foot outdoor event facility at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, with the structure expected to be completed this fall.

And supporters of the Clore center are optimistic they will receive a $2 million federal Economic Development Administration grant to help pay for construction of the 15,000-square-foot main Clore center building.

They expect to learn whether they received the grant by this fall or early spring.

But Marv Kinney, the center's acting executive director and special projects director for the Port of Benton, said he is optimistic based on the documentation requests he has received from federal officials.

Wine industry and economic development officials envision the center will promote regional wine and food and inform visitors about the diversity and quality of the region's agricultural products, said Deb Heintz, executive director of the Prosser Economic Development Association and a member of the Clore center executive board.

The center will be a central promotional stop for visitors to Washington's wine country as well as an educational and business center, she said. It is named after Walter Clore, a Washington State University scientist who is considered the father of Washington wine.

The Clore center also will dovetail the wine research function of the proposed wine science center at WSU Tri-Cities and the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, Kinney said.

Lighting, utilities, landscaping and a paved parking lot already are in place on the 22-acre center site overlooking the Yakima River.

The outdoor events center will include a food preparation area, office, storage area, restrooms, assembly area and an outdoor patio with trellises. Heintz said it could be built by either October or November.

The two-story Clore center is to include a wine tasting room, kitchen, theater, classrooms, offices, conference rooms and more. Kinney said it could feature rotating promotions of Washington's various American Viticultural Areas, with information and wines from each AVA.

"It's going to have several different components," Heintz said.

Estimated construction cost of the outdoor event facility and the Clore center is $4.6 million, with total cost of the center project estimated at $6.1 million, Heintz said.

Officials have said at least $1.5 million has been raised in a capital campaign, and another $2 million has been committed from the state Department of Commerce.

"It'll be a great complement to this region to have not only a wine science center that promotes research of Washington wines, but also the Clore center to promote the entire wine industry as well," Heintz said.