The state Senate has signed off on a measure, one that reeks of common sense, that will allow college students who are learning the science and production of wine to at long last be able to taste the very product they are making.
Of course, there's a catch: The students must be at least 18 and they can only swish the wine around in their mouth and then must spit it out.The bill is the handiwork of Rep. Larry Haler, a Richland Republican, who thinks (and rightfully so) that underage viticulture and enology majors ought be able to at least sip the grape.
As he told The Daily Weekly last month, "My bill will make it possible for them to taste the product, to savor it in their mouths, but they will still be required to spit it out."
Asked how this would be monitored, Haler replied with a laugh, "The instructor will be watching them very carefully."
And, God forbid, if they swallow?
"Well, they could be expelled from the course," said Haler.
Haler drew up the legislation not long after a group of Tri-Cities enology students came to the lawmaker's office in January, and basically told him they needed to be able to taste the stuff they're studying.
"The grape growing business is growing by leaps and bounds," said Haler. "And I think it's important that these students should be able to do what professional samplers and tasters can do."
Presently, 27 students at WSU's Tri-Cities campus are working toward a BA degree in Integrated Plant Science, with a major in viticulture and enology.
The measure passed the Senate 42-7, and now goes to the state House, where it expected to pass easily.
Democrat Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam opposed the measure, saying he fears that the bill could lead to a slipper slope, and unloose additional bills to lower drinking ages and expand access to alcohol.