SEATTLE (October 2, 2009) – Wine grape growers are picking their way through another excellent harvest in Washington State this month. Warm, dry weather throughout the summer – and more of the same across September – has produced fruit of beautiful quality. It has also sparked an early start.
“We’re probably a week ahead of last year,” said Dick Boushey of Boushey Vineyards in the central Yakima Valley AVA. His comments on timing are echoed by many growers across the state, as are his thoughts about the crop: “It looks outstanding. The weather has given us both plenty of sugar and good acidity. Also, the color in the reds is great. Cabernet and Syrah had some of the earliest veraison [a key sign of ripening] that I’ve ever seen.”
Kent Waliser of Sagemoor Vineyards in the central Columbia Valley AVA noted that, “Cabernet in particular should come through very well for us this year. Warmer sites are seeing lower yields and higher levels of concentration. So, for example, we really didn’t need to thin our crop very much. Overall, I believe we’re in great shape.”
Jim McFerran of Milbrandt Vineyards, in the Wahluke Slope AVA, agreed: “I look for Cabernet to be the star of the vintage,” he said, “and when Cabernet is the star, all other varieties tend to be great as well. We’ve been very impressed with all of the lots we’ve processed to date.”
Bob Bertheau of Chateau Ste Michelle expressed the sentiments of many about the rapid pace of this vintage: “Varieties are flying in from all parts of the Columbia Valley right now. At our Cold Creek Vineyard, for example, we can hardly pick the Cabs and Merlots fast enough to keep up with the ripening pace. But we also can’t rave enough about the color and concentration we’re seeing. It’s really shaping up to be an extraordinary vintage.”
Several growers commented that this year’s harvest is now approximately half-way complete, and that the arrival of cooler weather (60s F) will extend their work for at least a couple of more weeks.
For more about Washington State wine, visit www.washingtonwine.org.