Elinor Lake and her family have always been environmentally conscious. From ensuring their appliances were energy efficient to making the effort to turn off the lights every time they left the room, she and her family knew that even small actions could make an impact.

But when Lake started as a student at Washington State University Tri-Cities, pursuing undergraduate degrees in biology and humanities, she took her efforts to the next level, hoping to promote a culture of sustainability through campus initiatives and community projects.

26583192595_093debdaa0_zLake’s efforts began shortly after she attended a luncheon with CH2M. The organization had provided Lake with funds for a research project through the WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor’s Summer Scholars program where she studied professional women in academia and highlighted the traits, qualities and academic contributions that made them successful. Lake presented her research during a meeting with company executives and attended the luncheon thereafter.

“During the luncheon, I asked representatives from CH2M if their company recycled and I discovered they had an impressive sustainability program,” Lake said. “All of their events are zero-waste. They made a corporate commitment to be as environmentally-friendly as they could.”

Lake said she didn’t think anything would come of that initial discussion, but CH2M communications specialist Lynn Tegeler and Director of Public Relations Dee Millikin contacted Ken Fincher, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor of advancement and engagement, voicing they would support Lake’s sustainability efforts in any way they could.

“Dr. Fincher came to me and that was right when I was getting involved with WSU Tri-Cities’ environmental club,” Lake said. “We now had the corporate support, in addition to the administrative support, which was when everything really started to come together.”

Creating new opportunities

Backed by campus administration, community organizations and under the mentorship of Environmental Club advisor Gretchen Graber, Lake and her fellow environmental club members created a number of opportunities for the campus and regional community to get involved in sustainability efforts.

This past school year, the club organized two separate cleanup days at Bateman Island in Richland, Washington, in partnership with organizations such as the city of Richland, the Tapteal Greenway Association and several others. The two events attracted more than 120 volunteers who collected a combined 50 large bags of trash – half, of which was recycled.26097670065_b2ecbf8057_z

“The Bateman Island events were actually far more successful than I had anticipated,” Lake said. “It was inspiring and encouraging to see just how many people, both from WSU Tri-Cities and the general Tri-Cities community, were interested in cleaning up one of our local recreation areas.”

The club also organized their first Earth Day celebration last school year where they welcomed panel members from all over the mid-Columbia region. The event featured food from Ethos Trattoria, which uses sustainable materials, and the club handed out promotional items that define what people can do in their own homes and in the community to reduce, reuse and recycle.

“It’s a great way to publicize not only how people can start recycling more on campus, but also how they can take matters into their own home,” she said.

Lake said Graber was instrumental in the club’s success as she provided the knowledge, community connections and experience that served as a backbone to the group’s efforts.

“Working with Gretchen Graber in the club over the past year and a half has undoubtedly been one of the greatest learning experiences of my time at WSU Tri-Cities,” she said. “Gretchen contributed tremendous efforts toward the club and was invaluable with regard to my growth as a leader and as an aspiring change agent. She connected the club with key community partners. She deserves so much credit.”

Partnering with campus community

Lake recently turned her attention toward working with the campus maintenance and facility teams to publicize recycling and other sustainable practices on campus, with the hope of adding to the positive momentum the university has taken within the last several years to reduce waste.

20235317054_da00575ce3_zCarrie Ann Andersen, assistant director of campus facilities and operations, said she had her team make a conscious effort to reduce waste and improve upon the safety standards for cleaning materials on campus. Andersen said she and her team have added several recycling containers on campus, encouraged individuals to have their own paper recycling bins in their offices, as well as adding a few glass recycling containers on campus for the first time this year.

Anderson and her team also switched to environmentally-friendly cleaning products, which reduces the amount of contaminants that are released out into the environment.

“We have cut down the amount of waste and trash sent to the landfill by 50 percent in the last four years,” she said. “We used to have trash pick up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Now, our trash pick up is on Monday and Friday.”

Anderson said Lake has been a huge help in spreading word of their efforts and educating individuals on how they, too, can take sustainability into their own hands.

“With Elinor, her biggest help is that she is out there, she is talking to people, she is educating them,” she said. “We’re creating a culture of recycling and a culture of sustainability. It’s not only helping the planet. It is good business. Everyone wins.”

By C. Brandon Chapman, College of Education

gisela-ernst-slavit-headVANCOUVER, Wash. – Washington State University has won a five-year, $2.2 million grant to increase the number of certified K-8 teachers with bilingual and English learners (EL) endorsements and to provide professional development to improve EL instruction.

One of the main goals is to build on the strengths and talents of experienced paraprofessionals. The project will provide full scholarships to a minimum of 52 paraprofessionals to complete their bachelor’s degrees in education with EL endorsements. It is anticipated that at least 30 percent will be bilingual.

Other goals of the project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, will be to improve parental, family and community engagement and build resources for local outreach and national replication.

EL teacher shortage

None of the 295 school districts in Washington had their ELs meet all reading or math standards during the 2013-14 school year, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. ELs had much lower pass rates in reading than the student population at large, said EL professor Gisela Ernst-Slavit from the College of Education at WSU Vancouver.

Gisela Ernst-Slavit

“Washington schools are facing a crisis right now,” said Ernst-Slavit, who will work on the grant project with Judy Morrison, Yuliya Ardasheva and Sarah Newcomer at WSU Tri-cities and Kira Carbonneau at WSU Pullman.

The simple solution is to increase the quantity of EL teachers. But Washington – like most states – is experiencing an overall teacher shortage, especially in the central and southwestern parts of the state.

“As a result, what we see are schools using stop-gap measures to fill voids,” Ernst-Slavit said. “That includes emergency certifications and using substitute teachers instead of full-time teachers, which does a disservice to both teacher quality and student learning. Ultimately, student achievement suffers.”

Tri-Cities, Vancouver districts partner

Nowhere is this more apparent than around the Tri-Cities. While the state average of EL students per district is 10.5 percent, Pasco, for example, has 52 percent.

Pasco schools – along with those from Evergreen, Grandview, Kennewick, Prosser and Richland – are partner districts in the project, which is called Equity for Language Learners-Improving Practices and Acquisition of Culturally-Responsive Teaching (ELL-IMPACT).

“Collaboration between mentor teachers and our teacher education programs is at the core of this project,” said Ernst-Slavit, citing the WSU researchers’ specialized knowledge, expertise, cultural backgrounds and research perspective. “This is the kind of collaboration that places the college in a unique position to address the needs of our state by providing access and opportunity to our diverse communities.”


Gisela Ernst-Slavit, WSU Vancouver College of Education, 360-546-9659,

RICHLAND, Wash. – A doctoral student at Washington State University Tri-Cities is one of 15 worldwide, and the only U.S. student, selected to participate in a recent week-long school in Germany about developing safe, reliable chemicals in a sustainable way.

A school excursion to a lab in Hamburg, Germany.

“One of the biggest challenges for sustainability sciences is to find solutions that do not threaten economic growth, the environment and public welfare,” said Lei Zhu, who studies biological systems engineering at WSU Tri-Cities. “In particular, developing countries are seemingly faced with the dilemma of economic growth versus sustainability. Sustainability sciences is all about coming up with ways out of dilemmas.”

Participants studied the scope and benefits of sustainable chemistry in value chains and in chemicals in products at the Summer School on Sustainable Chemistry for Sustainable Development, Zhu said.

Lei Zhu in Lüneburg, Germany.

One purpose of the school is for students to bring their unique experiences from various countries for discussions on approaches and solutions to substitute hazardous chemicals for safe and reliable chemicals in products, he said.

At WSU, Zhu works under the guidance of associate professor Hanwu Lei to find an ideal and less expensive catalyst for converting biomass into biofuel and value added chemicals.

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

Elmar Villota

RICHLAND, Wash. – In Elmar Villota’s home country of the Philippines, as much as 15 percent of households do not have electricity. Villota, a doctoral student in biological systems engineering at Washington State University Tri-Cities, is motivated to close that gap with renewable energy.

“A simple light bulb could make a world of difference,” he said. “Without a sustainable source of electricity, students can’t have light or read comfortably at night. Imagine how much knowledge they would miss.”

Elmar Villota, left, educates
Filipino residents on basic
maintenance and
troubleshooting for an
energy device.

With a population of more than 100 million scattered across more than 7,100 islands, the Philippines faces the challenge of extending power to everyone, he said.

“In the Philippines, we are end users in terms of technology,” Villota said. “Historically, we have purchased technology rather than making or innovating it ourselves for our own use.”

Renewable energy, he added, could help address the nation’s sustainable energy concerns and stimulate technological growth.

Turning biomass into fuel, other products

As part of the Engineering and Research Development for Technology scholarship program, which is offered to all Filipino engineers by the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology, Villota is working toward his doctorate at WSU Tri-Cities.

Elmar Villota with Filipino residents.

He is studying how to convert second-generation biomass, such as agricultural waste or woody crops, to biofuels and other useful products, such as bio-based polymers and chemicals. Working under WSU associate professor Bin Yang, Villota mainly is focused on enzymatic hydrolysis, a process that uses bacteria and fungi to break down plant cell walls to sugar, which is turned into fuel.

Villota has written a book chapter on the subject in cooperation with Yang and Ziyu Dai, a senior scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). He is also working with Rongchun Shen, a visiting scholar from China, on techno-economic assessment regarding methods for converting lignin—structural polymers in plants—into useful, high-value products like bioplastics.

Bioproducts lab, PNNL draw scholar

Villota was attracted to WSU Tri-Cities because of its national reputation for excellence in renewable energy research and its partnership with PNNL, a leading national innovator in the renewable energy sector.

Elmar Villota in a BSEL lab at WSU Tri-Cities.

“WSU is one of the best schools for renewable energy because of the WSU Tri-Cities’ Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory and the university’s relationship with PNNL,” he said. “That is what really encouraged me to go here.”

He also contributes to advancing Filipino renewable energy through his home university, serving as a lecturer at Central Luzon State University. He also is a technical expert in renewable energy for the university’s Affiliated Renewable Energy Center and Phil-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology.

Villota said he is hopeful that thousands of fellow Filipinos will benefit from his work, which could lead to basic electrification and light and even broader impacts.

“Through this experience, I hope to extend students’ learning capabilities, and in turn, extend the potential for them to make a difference in the world,” he said.




Elmar Villota, WSU Tri-Cities doctoral student,
Bin Yang, WSU Tri-Cities biological systems engineering, 509-372-7640,
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-7333,

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

amy-roth-mcduffie-detailRICHLAND, Wash. – A Washington State University Tri-Cities professor is part of a project awarded $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation to teach mathematical modeling in elementary school as it applies to real-world cultural and community contexts.

The goal is to determine strategies that teachers across the nation may use in their own classrooms.

“We are connecting math to kids’ own community and culture so they can use it to make sense of their world,” said Amy Roth McDuffie, professor of mathematics education in the College of Education. “It’s not enough that they answer a math problem. It is the whole process of problem solving that is important.”

Mathematical modeling for younger grades

Amy Roth McDuffie

Mathematical modeling – using graphs, diagrams, equations and more to predict patterns and provide solutions to real-world issues – historically has been taught in high school and college. But recent Common Core State Standards require elementary students to meet benchmarks too.

Unlike upper level mathematical modeling, such as weather predicting, students will use grade-level appropriate math tools, such as counting, multiplying, dividing and making graphs.

“One example is having students use data from a family business,” said Roth McDuffie. “With an inventory model, we can collect data on what sells, then generate formulas for how to guide purchasing in the future.”

Teachers recruited across regions

Elementary teachers recruited in the Northwest and Southwest will meet monthly to use existing research to refine established strategies and develop new ones. They will apply the strategies in their own classrooms, then revise and refine them to achieve what works best.

Throughout the process, teachers will collect data through classroom observation and tests, as well as state testing, to determine student comprehension and retention. Findings will be published so other teachers can implement the ideas.

Grant funds will support stipends for the university researchers and graduate students, elementary teachers and for compilation and review of project data.

Joining Roth McDuffie in the study are: Erin Turner, associate professor of teaching, learning and sociocultural studies at the University of Arizona; Julia Aguirre, associate professor of mathematics education at the University of Washington Tacoma; and Mary Foote, professor of mathematics education at Queens College, City University of New York.


Amy Roth McDuffie, WSU Tri-Cities mathematics education, 509-372-7384,
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-7333,

RICHLAND, Wash. – Kayla Stark, a student at Washington State University Tri-Cities, has performed for venues ranging from hundreds to thousands around Tri-Cities, Wash. But last week, on Aug. 18, she performed at her largest venue yet: at a Seattle Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field.

Stark has sung the national anthem a number of times throughout the last three years at various events around the Tri-Cities. She said singing has always been a passion of hers, allowing her to venture outside of her comfort zone and develop her talent as an artist.Kayla Stark 1

“I performed for the Tri-City Dust Devils, at Tri-City Americans games, at the Benton Franklin Fair and then at my husband’s graduation for WSU Tri-Cities this May,” she said. “But I never thought I’d be singing at a Seahawks game.”

Stark’s father, Tom Oleson, has encouraged her to perform for larger venues because he knew it was something she was passionate about. This year, he sent a video to the Seattle Mariners as an audition for singing the national anthem during one of their season games, but they sent a nice letter back stating essentially, “thanks, but no thanks,” she said. That letter, however, didn’t discourage her dad for trying for other large venues.

“He told me he wanted to send something in to the Seahawks, and expecting the same response, I was like ‘OK Dad, knock yourself out,” she said. “But then, while I was at work, I got the email. I was like ‘Oh my gosh, they are serious. This is real. This is really happening.’”

Three weeks later, Stark found herself driving with her father, husband and brother-in-law to CenturyLink Field in Seattle: the home of the Super Bowl XLVIII champions. She had three practice tries at “The Star-Spangled Banner” during her sound check prior to performing it live shortly before the Seahawks took on the Minnesota Vikings.

Stark said the friendly and welcoming staff at the stadium, as well sound check practices, were what helped calm her nerves.

“I just closed my eyes and went for it,” she said. “It wasn’t my best, vocally, but it was still an amazing experience. Everyone I came in contact with at the stadium were also so amazing. They were all so nice and so helpful.”

Stark said it is still sinking in that she got to perform the nation’s song at one of the Northwest’s largest athletic venues.

Kayla Stark and family[2]“I was just so happy to honor our country and the people that have served it,” she said. “I am so grateful to my dad for helping me pursue my dreams. Performing is something I really enjoy and I feel like it challenges me in a good way. It is kind of an adrenaline rush. I like anything that tests my boundaries. I feel like singing is that kind of thing for me.”

Stark is studying elementary education at WSU Tri-Cities and is set to begin her student teaching this year. She said while she enjoys singing, she isn’t sure if she wants to pursue it professionally as she doesn’t want the job aspect to ruin her love for the art.

Stark said in her career as a teacher, however, she will use the experience to encourage her students to follow their dreams.

“I plan to use this experience to encourage my students to pursue anything they are interested in or passionate about,” she said. “I want my students to understand that the things that challenge them the most are the things that help them grow the most. Anything that takes practice and hard work will be worth it in the end – this goes for faith, talents, hopes, ideas and so much more.”

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Wine grapes may appear fine after a harsh wildfire season. But if grapes have smoke taint, the finished wine may taste and smell awful – an unpleasant surprise for growers and wine lovers alike.

“The aroma you get from smoke taint in wine is not a pleasant campfire aroma,” said Tom Collins, Washington State University Tri-Cities assistant professor of viticulture and enology. “The best-case comparison is smoked fish, but it can be more like ash tray.”

Changes in chemical composition

Hoop house - smoke taint study In a new study, Collins is exposing vines to smoke to better understand how the chemical composition of grapes changes. He wants to know how much smoke it takes to create smoke taint in wine grapes and wine, as well as how to lessen the problem.

He will examine samples of leaves and fruit, then make wine from the grapes for chemical analysis. He uses a smoker to pump fumes into a hoop house with 60 riesling vines. A second house of vines acts as a control. He is doing the same study on cabernet grapes.

Taint is invisible on the leaves or fruit, but appears when wine is made, influencing aroma and aftertaste. Severity of taint depends on the number and size of wildfires in a season, as well as movement of smoke. Not all wines made during severe fire seasons are tainted with smoke, Collins said.

“California had an issue with it from the 2008 vintage,” he said. “Washington has had issues with smoke-affected wines as well. It’s enough of a problem we need to look at it more closely.”

Smoky surprise

Smoke taint is created by compounds in the smoke that bind with sugar molecules to form glycosides.

“When present as glycosides, you cannot smell the smoke in the grapes,” Collins said. “But because wine is acidic, these glycosides break down, releasing the smoke compounds. Over time, the smoky aromas become apparent.”

He said there is evidence that the same thing happens when a person drinks the wine.

“When the enzymes in your mouth break down these glycosides in wine, they release the free compounds as you taste it,” he said. “Some of these wines don’t smell that bad, but when you taste them, you get an ashy character in the aftertaste.”

Replicates exposure from wildfires

In either case, the problem can be identified by chemical testing during the winemaking process.Tom Collins observes grapes in the hoop house during his smoke taint study at the WSU Prosser extension

There are ways to remove free compounds from the wine, but no effective ways to remove glycosides, Collins said.

“In the lab, you can hydrolyze the glycosides by heating the wine at low pH, but that is only for analysis,” he said. “It’s not a commercial practice.”

Most research that has been done so far is based on high intensity smoke for short periods of time. It is hard to smoke a vineyard for an extended period of time because of heat buildup, Collins said.

“What we are trying to replicate here is low intensity smoke for an extended period of time, which is more typical of actual smoke exposure from wildfires,” he said.

The first year of trials will demonstrate smoking methods, followed by research on how variables like fuel source, grape variety and time of year impact the severity of smoke taint.


Tom Collins, WSU Tri-Cities wine science, 509-372-7515,
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – While neonicotinoid pesticides can harm honey bees, a new study by Washington State University researchers shows that the substances Honey beespose little risk to bees in real-world settings.

The team of WSU entomologists studied apiaries in urban, rural and agricultural areas in Washington state, looking at potential honey bee colony exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides from pollen foraging. The results were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology ( this spring.

After calculating the risk based on a “dietary no observable adverse effect concentration” – the highest experimental point before there is an adverse effect on a species – of five parts per billion, the study’s results suggest low potential for neonicotinoids to harm bee behavior or colony health.

Understanding risk vs. hazard

“Calculating risk, which is the likelihood that bad things will happen to a species based on a specific hazard or dose, is very different from calculating hazard, which is the potential to cause harm under a specific set of circumstances,” said co-author Allan Felsot, WSU Tri-Cities professor of entomology and environmental toxicology.

“Most of what has dominated the literature recently regarding neonicotinoids and honey bees has been hazard identification,” he said. “But hazardous exposures are not likely to occur in a real-life setting.”

Bits of the wax comb, left, after separation of the beebread, right.

Felsot said the study shows that the risk of bee exposure to neonicotinoids is small because bees aren’t exposed to enough of the pesticide to cause much harm in a real-world scenario.

Lead author Timothy Lawrence, assistant professor and director of WSU Island County Extension, said many sublethal toxicity studies, whether at the organism level or colony level, have not done formal dose-response analyses.

“The question we posed focused on the risk of exposure to actively managed honey bee colonies in different landscapes,” he said.

Risks in landscapes none to very low

With the cooperation of 92 Washington beekeepers, the team collected samples of beebread, or stored pollen, from 149 apiaries across the state.

WSU student separating beebread from wax combThroughout the one-year trial, neonicotinoid residues were detected in fewer than five percent of apiaries in rural and urban landscapes. Two neonicotinoids, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, were found in about 50 percent of apiaries in agricultural landscapes.

Although neonicotinoid insecticide residues were detectable, the amounts were substantially smaller than levels shown in other studies to not have effects on honey bee colonies. The WSU researchers referenced 13 studies to identify no observable adverse effect concentrations for bee populations, which they used to perform a risk assessment based on detected residues.

“Based on residues we found in apiaries around Washington state, our results suggest no risk of harmful effects in rural and urban landscapes and arguably very low risks from exposure in agricultural landscapes,” Felsot said.

Care required to regulate exposure

While exposure levels were found to be small, Lawrence said it is still important to be careful with use of neonicotinoid insecticides and follow product label directions. For example, insecticides should not be used during plant flowering stages when bees are likely to be foraging.

“While we found that bees did not have chronic exposure to adverse concentrations of neonicotinoids, we are not saying that they are not harmful to bees – they are,” he said. “People need to be careful with pesticide use to avoid acute exposure.”

Other researchers on the study included Elizabeth Culbert, WSU Food and Environmental Quality Lab (GEQL) research technician; Vincent Hebert, WSU associate professor of entomology and laboratory research director; and Steven Sheppard, WSU professor and department chair of entomology.


Allan Felsot, WSU Tri-Cities entomology and environmental toxicology, 509-372-7365,
Timothy Lawrence, WSU Island County Extension, 360-679-7329,
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities signed a land lease agreement this week with Corporate Pointe Developers, LLC, out of Pullman, Wash., to build an 800-bed complex for student housing.

WSU Tri Cities student housingThe facility will be located on the north end of the WSU Tri-Cities campus and will encompass approximately 15 acres. The first of seven phases, which will include 165 beds, is expected to be ready for the academic year in fall 2017.

A formal groundbreaking is anticipated in late August or early September. The complex will be owned, operated and maintained by Corporate Pointe Developers.

“It has been a two-year journey pursuing a housing solution for WSU Tri-Cities,” Chancellor Keith Moo-Young said. “We are excited about the opportunities for the WSU Tri-Cities campus to draw students from outside the region and to provide a comprehensive campus feel.”

The effort marks the end of a request for qualifications process pursued by WSU Tri-Cities to bring student housing to campus. In November 2014, the Port of Benton issued a request for proposals for using port land that yielded a single interested party. Discussions ceased after the parties did not reach an agreement.WSU Tri-Cities student housing

WSU Tri-Cities reopened the process last fall and Corporate Pointe Developers won against two other finalists for the bid.

To learn more about WSU Tri-Cities and its commitment to dynamic student engagement, dynamic research experiences and dynamic community engagement based in a polytechnic approach to learning, visit


Contact: Jeffrey Dennison, WSU Tri-Cities director of communications, 509-372-7319,

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Pacific Northwest wineries and vineyards are exploring a new, specific way to promote their wines: “terroir tourism.”

Marketing terroir – an area’s environmental characteristics such as soil, topography, climate and farming practice – has increased in states like Washington and Oregon, said Byron Marlowe, instructor of hospitality and wine business management at Washington State University Tri-Cities. It presents a new and growing opportunity that can further the Northwest’s name and brand as a wine destination for the world.WSU Tri-Cities news

Marlowe recently completed a literature review regarding terroir tourism for Oregon wine publications. He presented his paper at the International Terroir Congress, which for the first time was held in the United States.

Locations ideal for best wine grapes

Locations in Washington and Oregon present ideal conditions for Vitis vinifera grape varieties, which encompass many preferred and prominent grape types in the western United States wine market and in most of the world, Marlowe said.

“The terroir in the Pacific Northwest, and more specifically the mid-Columbia region, is a major reason for the quality of wines you see across the state,” he said. “Great wine starts in the vineyard, and you can’t have a great vineyard without the ideal soil, climate amount of sunshine and geology.”

Much like producers in California’s Napa Valley and locations in France and Italy, Washington and Oregon wineries are starting to promote these conditions as elemental to the region’s generally high quality wines.

“It would make sense that terroir would be a determining factor in wine tourism in the Northwest,” Marlowe said.

Wineries promote AVA differences

Two examples of producers using terroir to market their wines are Badger Mountain Vineyard/Powers Winery and Dubrul Vineyard/Côte Bonneville.

More tourists are seeking out wine that is grown in particular American viticulture areas (AVAs) in the Northwest, said Mickey Dunne, owner and sales director for Badger Mountain Vineyard and Powers Winery in Kennewick, Wash.

WSU Tri-Cities news“There is growing knowledge of some of the smaller and newer AVAs,” he said. “We have crafted our reserve wine program around single vineyard cabernet sauvignon from four different AVAs, giving us an opportunity to show consumers a mini-tour of Washington terroir.”

Côte Bonneville, in Sunnyside, Wash., produces and promotes wines based on the vineyard’s farming practices, climate and unique soil elements, said Kathy Shiels, owner of Côte Bonneville and DuBrul Vineyard.

“Our vision was a classic Burgundian model, where small areas of the estate were bottled separately to showcase the terroir,” she said. “It has become much more common in the industry today to differentiate yourself by a sense of place.”

Organic and state line distinctives

Marlowe said in Oregon, particularly, the popularity of organic wine has increased, with wine enthusiasts focusing more on farming practices. Nearly 50 percent of Oregon vineyards are sustainable or organic, according to Oregon Organic Wine.

“Oregon has been able to recognize and attract the wine tourist who has high levels of place attachment to its unique terroir through sustainable and organic growing practices,” he said.

Badger Mountain in Washington realized the value of an organic wine operation when it created the state’s first organic vineyard and winery in 1990 and 1996, respectively.

“With the climate in Washington so conducive to low input, I think we have a substantial advantage over many, if not most, growing regions,” Dunne said.

Marlowe is working with regional organizations to generate additional interest in terroir tourism, as well as examining whether it may lead to wine enthusiasts crossing state lines.

“Vines don’t recognize state borders and neither do geographical features, soil types and climate,” he said. “What I’m looking into is whether these state borders have an impact on terroir tourism and whether state lines matter when wine enthusiasts visit wineries in a particular region.”