Voice of the Vine – Washington State University

Raining today – 29 mm so far. Chooks sulking, Kete miserable, horses under the dripping trees and Taja curled up in her basket, but a good chance for me to catch up on baking and reading.

I subscribe to Voice of the Vine, an email newsletter from Washington State University – go to http://wine.wsu.edu – which has really interesting information about the latest research. The grammar in the newsletter is sometimes a bit awry, but the passion behind the writing is something I do enjoy. Today’s newsletter has an especially nice snippet which reflects the community of wine growers and makers, and I reproduce it here. Perhaps it is a programme the New Zealand wine community might like to consider:

Community and Collaborates in Support of WSU V&E    
  When Seattle’s renowned “Chef in the Hat” was approached by Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery about participating in a program to raise funds for WSU’s viticulture and enology program he not only agreed, he offered to make his own contribution. Chef Thierry Rautureau, owner of the highly acclaimed Rover’s Restaurant, says he contributed out of a sense of community.

Last fall, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville launched a program dedicating a portion of their wines sales to the WSU Viticulture and Enology Program. A total of 123 restaurants joined the effort, raising $40,000 to fund scholarships, research and equipment.

The program is the brainchild of Ste. Michelle’s director of global accounts N.W. region Joe Aschbacher (WSU Class of ’87, School of Hospitality). Aschbacher says when he approached Ste. Michelle Wine Estates president and CEO Ted Baseler (’76, Communications) with the idea, “he really sank his teeth into it.”

The concept is simple. Ste. Michelle provided marketing materials and information to generate awareness of the WSU program that trains the next generation of grape growers and winemakers and fuels research in support of the industry. The winery offered training and materials for participating restaurants and donated a portion of the sale of each bottle or glass of their wines to the V & E program.

For Rover’s owner and chef, Thierry Rautureau, joining the effort was a no-brainer.

“When I heard about it, I felt it was an easy one for us as well,” Rautureau says. “They offered me a discount on their premium wine, Col Solare, so I decided to discount it for my customers and donate $5 a bottle from my proceeds. They gave me a deal, and I simply passed it on. It was a win-win.”

When asked about his motivation, the internationally acclaimed chef simply replied, “community.”

“I feel very much a part of the wine equation in Washington state,” says Rautureau. “It’s a circle. Someone in eastern Washington grows the grapes. Someone buys them and makes wine. Someone distributes it, and I sell it. We’re all involved in the community.”

Top: The “chef in the hat,” Thierry Rautureau. Bottom: Joe Aschbacher, Ste. Michelle’s director of global accounts N.W. region
For more information on viticulture and enology at WSU, please visit:


One thought on “Voice of the Vine – Washington State University

  1. Thanks for your interest in Voice of the Vine. But I was bummed to see your comment about our grammar; oh well… we can always use another proofreader!

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