A handful of winemakers put Walla Walla on the wine tour map. Among them is Myles Anderson, who has retired as the director of Walla Walla Community College’s Center for Enology & Viticulture.
Anderson is known for the wine he makes with his longtime partner Gordy Venneri at Walla Walla Vitners (which, by the way, is outstanding). But he is renowned more for the success of his students in the winemaking and grape-growing program.
The Center has successfully trained students to make great wine and work in other aspects — from growing to marketing — of the industry.
Anderson, who had been at WWCC since 1977 as an instructor, counselor and administrator, envisioned a program to provide a top-notch education to those wanting to grow grapes and make wine. The program has grown into the Center of Enology and Viticulture.
Anderson took his vision to key local winemakers — Gary Figgins (Leonetti), John Abbott (Abeja), Marty Clubb (L’Ecole No. 41), Rick Small (Woodward Canyon) and Ron Coleman (Tamarack Cellars) — to find out what knowledge and skills students would need to succeed in the wine industry.
Anderson, now 73, has been director of the program from its inception — on and off. This isn’t the first time Anderson has tried to let his brainchild flourish under new leadership.
Anderson first tried to retire in 2006 but unexpected events have brought him back to WWCC.
“I’ve done this gig three different times and retired three different times,” Anderson said earlier this year in an interview with Andy Perdue, editor of Great Northwest Wine. “It’s time to step aside for someone who can take this further into the future than I’m able to do.”
WWCC’s program, the oldest in the country at a two-year school, is well respected. It has graduated hundreds of students and is considered an elite program — one of many reasons WWCC was selected this year to win the Aspen Institute’s top prize as the nation’s best two-year college.
As Anderson’s career comes to a close (although, it’s never certain), it is clear Anderson’s vision and leadership have been a boon to the wine industry in the Valley as well as the state, the region and the nation.