History of the Tri-Cities Wine Festival by Diane B. Reed
Dr. Walter Clore
In 1979, the Washington wine industry was in its infancy and the Tri-Cities was hardly the “heart of the Northwest wine industry” of today. In fact, there were only a handful of wineries in Washington.
Dr. Walter Clore, who was honored by the state legislature in 2001 as “The Father of Washington's Wine Industry,” had a lot to do with the genesis of the fledgling wine industry. Clore was the Washington State University viticulturist who, in the 1930s, began studying where grapevines might thrive in eastern Washington. The Seattle Times noted at the time of his death in 2003: "His enthusiasm for wine grapes seduced some farmers into dedicating some of their land to this new specialty crop, prompting more than a few raised eyebrows and head shakes among their more traditional neighbors."
Clore lived to see his dream flourish, although slowly at first. By 1981, Washington had 19 wineries. Now there are more than 200. Washington is second only to California in the production of U.S. premium wines, and the industry contributes about $2.4 billion to the state economy. In 2001, Wine Enthusiast magazine named the state its worldwide wine region of the year.