Named for ‘the father of Washington wine,’ the Prosser center offers popular weekend classes, tastings and more.

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WALTER CLORE dedicated his life to Washington wine. The Washington State University researcher worked from his home base in the Yakima Valley for nearly 70 years, promoting the idea that Washington’s Columbia Valley is a great place to support a world-class wine industry.

Now, the center named for “the father of Washington wine” is following his legacy by dedicating itself to promoting every wine region in the state, and by teaching about wine.

Every weekend, the small staff at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser conducts wine-education classes. One week, it might be Washington vs. Burgundy (pinot noir and chardonnay); the next, it might be a comparative tasting of Italian proseccos.

The Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center

The Clore Center, as it is nicknamed in wine country, is beginning to fulfill its original goals. The idea was proposed shortly after Clore’s death in 2003 and survived an uphill battle for funding. It was built to serve as an educational center in the heart of the Washington wine industry.

Today, it also serves as a tasting room that represents the diversity of Washington wines. At any given time, all of the 13 American Viticulture Areas in Washington are represented here, either being poured behind the bar or for sale in the store.

Each month has a theme dedicated to a different region. April Reddout, the Clore Center’s program director, personally tastes every wine poured or sold there to make sure it represents the region well. For example, September is always “back to school” month, in which student-made wines from the state’s three winemaking schools are featured.

The Clore Center is amid Prosser-based tasting rooms — at least a dozen are just a few minutes away — and it’s always bustling, sometimes with busloads of tourists on a day trip from a cruise ship docked 20 miles away in the Tri-Cities.

The center also serves as the home of the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame, which inducts a new member each summer. Inside, interpretive displays share the history of Washington wine. Visitors can enjoy lunch and a relaxing glass of wine (riesling, Clore’s favorite wine, is always available). The menu, while limited, is garnished with scenic views of the Yakima River and the majestic, treeless mountains of the Yakima Valley.

Banquet facilities mean the Clore Center sometimes operates 20 hours a day. Its own events include Lemtoberfest (featuring wines with German origins) and Rising Stars, which puts the spotlight on new state winemakers.

But the weekend classes are of greatest interest, drawing crowds from the Tri-Cities, Yakima and beyond. Winemakers often attend, enjoying the opportunity to learn and hang out with fellow wine lovers.

I imagine Dr. Clore would be pleased with how Washington wine is being promoted in his name.