- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

PROSSER, Wash. (AP) - A long-awaited center that celebrates Washington’s wine industry opened quietly in Prosser earlier this year.

The Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center building is still awaiting some finishing touches, the Tri-City Herald (http://bit.ly/1jw6nDg) reported Monday.

But the center has already hosted some events in recent months.

Construction of the $4 million facility was paid for by a $2 million federal grant, a $1.4 million state grant and fundraising by the board of directors. A nonprofit operates the center.

“The pieces are coming together,” said Abbey Cameron, the center’s director

The nonprofit now is focused on raising about $300,000 to help pay for operations, exhibits and equipment, Cameron said. They’ve already received more than half of that amount.

The center’s goal is to tell the story of the state’s wine industry. It honors Walter Clore, who worked at Washington State University’s crop research facility in Prosser and helped prove that wine grapes would be a viable crop in the Columbia Valley. He died in 2003.

At the moment, the center’s tasting room and the granite countertops of the bar are bare.

Eventually, the space will be filled with exhibits, including a map of Washington’s wine grape-growing regions behind the tasting bar, Cameron said.

Exhibits will pay tribute to Clore and the history of the state’s wine industry, including the recent expansion in grape vine acreage and wineries, she said.

There will also be an aroma wheel with vials that visitors can sniff as they try to identify what tastes are in the wine they are sampling, such as chocolate, Cameron said.

The tasting bar will offer different selections of Washington wine each month, allowing visitors to try wine from around the state, she said. That wine also will be offered for sale along with Washington-made food products.

The nonprofit is in the process of hiring a tasting room supervisor. Cameron said that needs to happen before finishing up the tasting room and holding a grand opening. The center will have about eight to 10 part-time and full-time staff.

The banquet space is already in use, with the first event occurring in January, shortly after construction was complete, Cameron said.

Income from events and rentals will help pay for operational expenses. Sales of beer, liquor and wine will be one of the center’s largest sources of revenue.

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Information from: Tri-City Herald, http://www.tri-cityherald.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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