From left, Myles Anderson, Leo Garcia, Rick Hamman, Fransisco Sarmeinto.

From left, Myles Anderson, Leo Garcia, Rick Hamman, Fransisco Sarmeinto.

The Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers recognized Rick Hamman for his viticultural skills and presented him with its Erick Hanson Memorial Grower of the Year Award. Hamman has assisted Washington grape growers since 1999 when he left Colorado State University as extension viticulturist to join Hogue Cellars in Prosser.

Hamman became director of viticulture for Hogue Cellars in 2005 and was responsible for Hogue Cellars’ viticulture staff, 2,100 acres of grapes, 45 growers, and approximately 9,500 tons of grapes. Since 2007, he’s been viticulture manager for Hogue Ranches and Mercer Estate Winery, working with growers and winemakers in coordinating wine grape production and quality of more than 4,700 tons of wine grapes delivered to the state’s largest wineries and several boutique wineries.

He willingly shares his technical knowledge with many industry organizations and is a staunch advocate for clean plants, said the Grape Association’s Vicky Scharlau. Hamman serves on the Wine Advisory Council, a research arm of the Washington Wine Commission, is chair of the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Grapevine Assessment Committee, and is a past member of the Washington State Commission on Pesticide Registration.

Industry Service

Known for his years of educating Hispanic orchard employees, Leo Garcia has replicated the program for vineyard workers in Washington. Garcia and co-worker Francisco Sarmiento received the Industry Service Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers during its February annual meeting.

Garcia, the bilingual education program director at Wenatchee Valley College, in Wenatchee, Washington, has led the Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Program for more than 20 years.  Sarmiento is coordinator and instructor in the program and helps develop its curriculum.

At the request of the state’s wine grape industry, Garcia developed a similar program called the Latino Agricultural Education Program for Viticulture. Since the program’s inception more than eight years ago, some 250 vineyard employees have completed the courses taught in Spanish and English.

Though Garcia and Sarmiento are based at Wenatchee Valley College, from November through March they travel each week to teach the viticulture program at the Yakima Valley Community College’s Grandview branch.

In presenting the award, Kent Waliser, general manager of Sagemoor Farms in Pasco, said that Garcia and Sarmiento are true Renaissance men and proof that two men change the world. “They’ve inspired and brought change to their students and pride to the students’ families.” Waliser added that Sagemoor has participated in both the orchard and vineyard programs and have sponsored a student every year since the program’s beginning in 1980.

Lifetime Achievement

Myles Anderson, who recently retired after more than three decades of service to Walla Walla Community College, helped launched the college’s Institute for Enology and Viticulture in 2000. He was the program’s founding director until last year.

His vision and effective fundraising efforts helped develop the program with lightening speed and by 2003 the program had a building and classrooms. Not long after, the college had a bonded teaching winery and several acres of teaching vineyards. Since the program was launched, more than 1,600 students have completed the viticulture and enology coursework.

Anderson was also recognized for his pioneering work in Walla Walla’s wine industry. Walla Walla Vintners, a boutique winery opened by Anderson and partner Gordy Venneri in 1995, was among the first ten wineries to be opened in the Walla Walla Valley in today’s winemaking era.

Restaurant of Year

The Seattle restaurant Canlis received the Grape Association’s Restaurant of the Year award. Canlis was recognized for its exceptional job of showcasing and educating diners about Washington wines. Canlis, with five sommeliers on staff, has 18,000 bottles of 2,500 wine selections and has received numerous awards in the past named Seattle’s wine destination, including Restaurant of the Year in 2011 by the Washington Wine Commission.

WSU Wine Science Center gets boost

Washington State University’s Wine Science Center, scheduled for opening in 2015, received a $250,000 boost from the Mercer family and Mercer Canyons, Inc. The gift was announced during the annual meeting of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers held in early February.

Construction of the new center began last September and should be completed by the end of this summer. The center, which will include labs, research winery, library, and classrooms, will begin housing student classes in spring of 2015.

The project represents collaboration between industry, WSU, and the Port of Benton. A mix of private, state, and federal money is supporting the $23 million center. Some $4 million still needs to be raised.