WALLA WALLA, WASH. – Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) announced today that Casey McClellan, cofounder of Seven Hills Winery, has been named as the interim director for the Institute of Enology and Viticulture.
In this position, McClellan will oversee operations, support students, and draw on his extensive knowledge of the wine industry to guide the program into the future. His appointment is expected to last only a few months while an exhaustive search is conducted for the next director.
McClellan, raised in Walla Walla and a fourth-generation farmer, is regarded as one of the region’s most esteemed winemakers. The McClellan family has been farming in the Columbia Basin since the 1880s. While in college, McClellan planted the Old Block Merlot at SHW Estate Vineyard in 1982. Soon after, he completed a Master of Science in Enology from University of California, Davis.
He and his wife, Vicky, returned to the Walla Walla Valley in 1998 and established Seven Hills Winery. The first plantings at McClellan Estate Vineyard were made in 2003. Over the years, McClellan produced over 30 vintages of wine with an emphasis in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. He sold Seven Hills Winery in 2016 and transitioned into a consulting role.
McClellan is an active member of a number of industry organizations in the Walla Walla Valley and around the country.
“WWCC is delighted to welcome someone of Casey’s caliber—a widely respected winemaker with extensive experience in all aspects of wine production and winery operations—who can step in and immediately add value for our students and the wine industry,” WWCC President Chad Hickox said.
Hickox notes that the Enology and Viticulture program’s Advisory Committee was especially engaged in securing guest lecturers and off-campus learning experiences. The Advisory Committee is a who’s-who list of industry experts who are valued advisors and passionate advocates for the program and college.
“I cherish our partners in the local wine industry—they are deeply committed to our students, the program, and the college,” WWCC President Chad Hickox said.
“Casey has served our wine community for decades as a mentor, leader and advocate for the wine business,” said Devyani Gupta, Advisory Committee chair, head winemaker at Valdemar Estates, and graduate of the WWCC program. “I am very grateful for his wealth of experience and perspective that he will be able to share with our students as they prepare to enter the wine industry.”
WWCC’s Institute for Enology & Viticulture, founded in 2000, is a groundbreaking academic institute for hands-on experience in winemaking and viticulture practices. Students from all over the United States are drawn to the 15,000 square foot facility that houses classrooms and a fully operational and bonded winery called College Cellars—the first student-operated commercial winery at a community college.
College Cellars and the college’s vineyards are managed entirely by students and faculty, and students learn grape selection, growing, harvesting, fermenting, barreling, blending, and marketing, while also receiving valuable real-life experience through internships. The program and its winery have received widespread recognition from industry publications like Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate, and numerous accolades in regional and national competitions.
Hundreds of Enology and Viticulture graduates still live and work in the region. The success of these graduates is viewed as a key contributor to the growth of the industry in the Walla Walla Valley and beyond. In fact, more than half of the 95+ point “outstanding” and “extraordinary” Washington wines reviewed by “Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate” were made by WWCC Enology & Viticulture graduates.
If you are interested in learning more about WWCC’s Enology and Viticulture program, please visit wwcc.edu or contact Donna Murray at [email protected] or 509.524.5170.