WSU wine marketing partnership under way

PULLMAN, Wash. — WSU researchers are looking at ways to work together to better market Washington wine from vineyard to glass.

Thomas I. Wahl, director of WSU’s International Marketing Program for Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) Center, funded research projects that examine consumer wine preferences. Those projects revealed a need to strengthen working relationships between marketing and agricultural researchers, and leaders in the wine industry.

“There is a need to develop more collaboration when it comes to wine,” Wahl said. “Different segments in the wine industry face marketing challenges, yet as researchers, we are not hearing the challenges in the same language. I’d like to see Washington wines on the shelves in China, but first we need to create marketing messages that define our product.”

The IMPACT Center uses science and technology to improve the competitiveness of food or agricultural products in the global market. Wahl is hoping that by addressing marketing issues of Washington wines IMPACT will be able to provide valuable research in order to more successfully export wines.

The center recently brought together economists, marketers, researchers and industry representatives to discuss pressing marketing issues for Washington wine.

“Discussion across disciplines helps to better identify key concerns and opportunities for collaboration in research, in addition to the marketing of Washington wines to promote economic growth and trade,” Wahl said.

The workshop featured a number of speakers, including Jeff Gordon, owner, Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards and chairman of the Washington Wine Commission; Economics Professor Orley Ashenfelter, Princeton University; Anna Marin, from the Food Innovation Center at Oregon State University; and Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at WSU.

The wine research planning committee at WSU included Wahl, IMPACT fellow Jill McCluskey, marketing Professor Jean Johnson and Bill Hendrix, director of the WSU viticulture and enology program and chair of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

“As the land-grant university, WSU needs to be involved in what is the state’s own brand, Washington Wine,” Bernardo said. The IMPACT Center plans to develop another workshop sometime next year in the Tri-Cities area.

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