Legislature invests in fermentation science

Local winery believes investment could help pave the way for future job creation


The Oregon Legislature passed a flurry of measures during its last day in session, July 8, one of which could (eventually) make a big impact in the local wine industry.

According to a press release from Newberg’s A to Z Wineworks, the measure involved a $1.2 million “job creation investment” in Oregon State University’s fermentation science program. The release called the measure an “exciting investment” that will support producers of wine, beer and distilled spirits across the state.

Michael Davies, with A to Z, said that the investment means OSU will be able to fully fund the foundation for a distilled spirits program.

“Personally, I think it’s very timely in the sense that the wine industry, the beer industry and even the spirits industry have been growing rapidly over the last 10 to 15 years,” he said. “They’ve been creating a lot of jobs, and they’re bringing money into the local economies of small communities.”

The release from A to Z said that OSU received a donated distillery from King Estate Winery, but has thus far been unable to put the equipment to use due to lack of operational funding.

“With the additional investment from the 2013 Legislature, the university will be the first in the nation with a trifecta of a working research winery, brewery and distillery,” the release said.

Davies said that, more and more, specialized education is becoming necessary in Oregon’s wine industry.

“It used to be that a person could get into the wine industry with a background in very basic chemistry or even biology,” he said. “But that’s not really the case any more. Now, the knowledge level (required) is going up and up and up.”

And that’s a good thing, he added. The rising expertise in the industry shows that the state’s brand is becoming better able to compete with producers globally, and hence, gaining the attention of new consumers.

“Oregon’s rich culture of food and beverage is a hallmark across the state,” Davies said. “Particularly in Newberg, A to Z Wineworks is honored to be among the Oregon-owned companies that are fueling market demand for our state products and the jobs to fulfill them.”

In a newsletter from House Speaker Tina Kotek, she described the investment as one of a number of steps the Legislature took in this session to “to speed Oregon’s economic recovery.”

For more information on OSU’s fermentation science program, visit oregonstate. edu/dept/foodsci/undergrad/ fermopt.htm.