St. Hilaire Cellars establishes migrant student scholarship

St. Hilaire Cellars owner Gary L. Jackson believes our state’s Hispanic farm workers do not get the credit they deserve. “I don’t think people realize that if there were no Hispanic farm workers, there would be no wine industry in the State of Washington,” he said.

As a way to recognize farm workers’ contribution to the wine industry, Jackson will donate 5 percent of the profits from the sale of two new wines to support a Fiesta Scholarship program at Washington State University and the University of Washington. The new wines are called Fiesta en Blanca, a chardonnay, and Fiesta en Rojo, a merlot. Jackson will visit Pullman Feb.
13 to deliver his first $500 scholarship donation to WSU.

“This program will help support WSU students from migrant backgrounds. I am very excited about this partnership with St. Hilaire Cellars and look forward to watching the scholarship program grow,” said WSU Vice President for Equity and Diversity Michael J. Tate.

The first Pullman business to contract with St. Hilaire Cellars is Dissmore IGA. “When Jackson called me and explained the scholarship program associated with his label, I said ‘how cool is that?’” said Dissmore assistant store manager Ralph Heaton. “I think it is a great idea and I will do everything I can do to push it in our community.”

Heaton just placed his order and expects the wine to be available to customers in Pullman as soon as it can be shipped from Yakima. They can also be found at Tidyman’s stores in Spokane and Food Pavilion in Moses Lake, Yakima and Tri-Cities.

Ever since establishing the winery in 1991, Jackson has hired Hispanic farm workers. One of his former field hands now serves as his farm manager and handles a good portion of Jackson’s wine business. “These workers get up at the crack of dawn and work their tails off. All they need are opportunities to advance themselves,” said Jackson.

Although Jackson is an alumnus of the University of Washington, he has many personal connections to Washington State University. His wife Christine is the director of WSU’s Extension Office in Yakima County and their three children are graduates of WSU. He hired Gail Cogdill, a Cougar Hall of Fame football player, to oversee sales in the Inland Empire.

“I really want to see this scholarship program take off at WSU. The more wine we sell, the more scholarships we can give,” said Jackson. He said he hopes that someday he can give out one scholarship every week.

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