Overview


Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Northwest wine to you and bringing you to Northwest wine. Our goal is:
  • To help you select Pacific Northwest wines at a variety of price levels
  • To keep you up-to-date about the Northwest’s wineries, vineyards, and individuals
  • To help you plan trips to wine country
  • To connect you to the larger wine community

Search

Loading...

Wine Blog Awards

'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

2011 Harvest Report - October 13th Edition

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The 2011 harvest is underway in Washington State. Over the coming weeks, I will provide periodic updates on what is picked, where, and when as well as thoughts on the growing season from the state’s growers and winemakers. Read previous updates here.

10/13 Update: Our harvest update this week is best summed up with a tweet from Josh Maloney (@maloneywine) of Milbrandt Vineyards. “So far this vintage can be easily summed up - WTF? (Where's the fruit? - trying to keep clean).”

Indeed things have remained slow over the last week as the rain threw another curveball at the 2011 growing season in Washington. While Saturday and Sunday saw sunshine and warmer temperatures, these days were the exception to what was otherwise a cool, wet week. On average, 0.4 to 0.7 inches of rain fell across eastern Washington, in some locations significantly more.

There are several concerns regarding the wet weather. As the grapes take up moisture, the Brix drop – about 1 Brix was lost according to people I spoke with after the recent rains. It then takes a day or two for sugars to return to their previous level and continue accumulating. In a cool year like this year, that means losing several days of potential ripening at a time when the days are shortening and the temperatures are dropping.

Additionally, rain can cause the grape surface to puncture, allowing mold and other organisms, including yeast, to enter. Thomas Henick-Kling at Washington State University’s Viticulture & Enology, Research & Extension writes in WSU’s weekly update, “these yeast are not the friendly wine yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, instead, they are mostly Kloeckera sp (Hanseniaspora sp), Pichia sp, and Candida sp yeasts that can produce large amounts of acetic acid and acetic acid esters.” Read the update for specific recommendations related to cold soaking.

“The rain has definitely not been welcome,” winemaker Kendall Mix of Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard and Winery says. “We saw Brix dip a little this week from last week after the rains…We still need several days of nice weather to really get things going.” He also notes that the decision to pick this year has been based more on Mother Nature than ideal flavors and numbers.

Mix echoes the sentiments expressed last week by Milbrandt’s Josh Maloney, saying, “The relative pH’s of the wines seem to be different from previous vintages – for the most part for a given TA, pH’s are about 0.2 units lower than recent years. I’m not really sure why, other than the strange growing season.”

While the rain had a significant affect on some growers, it did not particularly impact others. Kathy Shiels of DuBrul Vineyard says, “The rain hasn't had a huge affect on us. We have not had a mildew problem. Most of our whites are picked. I expect the whites will all be off by the end of the week. Syrah end of the week or early next.” Shiels says that she expects the vintage to be most comparable to 2004 for their the Bordeaux varietals, “elegant, balanced and sleeky.”

Despite the rain last week, harvest has progressed across the state. Pacific Rim brought in its first Riesling from Hogue Ranches on the 7th. Several vineyards on Red Mountain, a warm site, started picking Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, two late ripening varieties. Many have noted good flavor development despite the lower Brix levels.

Looking at the Brix numbers with several growers and winemakers last week, two things were clear. The first is that sugar accumulation has slowed due to the cool temperatures and rain; the second is the extent to which harvest is compressing. In terms of sugar accumulation, some vineyards continue to drop fruit despite the late date. Having a lighter crop due to last November’s frost has helped others.

In terms of compression, many winemakers I have spoken with have only brought in small amounts of fruit. This means that when fruit does come in, it will all come in during a short period rather than being staggered as it would be during a ‘normal’ year.

David ‘Merf’ Merfeld at Northstar Winery – which focuses on Merlot - says that he has brought in a mere 3% of his fruit as of yesterday. He estimates being about 1.5 to 2 weeks behind last year’s (cool) pace. However, he is not particularly concerned. “We will start to rock n’ roll next week,” Merfeld says. Kendall Mix at Goose Ridge says he has about 10% of his fruit in.

One winery I visited recently, that produces about 15,000 cases annually, had two fermentation bins in use at the moment, representing the total of the 2011 vintage. Some would be happy to have that. However, many say that they could pick the fruit today if forced to without making 2011 ‘The Year of Rosé.’ Still, they hope to do better.

For many wineries, the compressed harvest presents a significant logistical problem. One winemaker I spoke with explained it this way. “I’ve got enough fermentation capacity for a little less than half my fruit,” he says. “That means I have to turn my fermentation bins over two-plus times during harvest. With each fermentation lasting about ten days that presents a problem if everything comes in at the same time.” It should be noted that most wineries in Washington have significantly less fermentation space than this winery.

The good news is that current weather predictions show little risk for frost in the immediate future. The forecast for the next week across eastern Washington is dry and partly sunny with temperatures in the sixties. As Nicholas Quille of Pacific Rim aptly tweeted yesterday, “Sun shining, grapes coming, mood lifting.”

Pictures: Les Collines Syrah at Rasa Vineyards. Processing fruit, courtesy of Gorman Winery (Photo by Caylee Betts). New optical sorter at Pepper Bridge. Fermenting juice, courtesy of Domanico Cellars.

See information on the Washington State Growing Degree Days here.

Monthly forecast for Yakima Valley (Sunnyside), Red Mountain (Benton City), Walla Walla, Paterson, and Mattawa.

* * *

The information in the table below is aggregated from personal correspondence with growers and winemakers, as well as information posted on Twitter and Facebook. It is not intended to be comprehensive but rather is intended as a snapshot of what is going on around the state. If you wish to send data for your grapes or vineyards (or correct any of the information below), please email me at wawinereport@gmail.com, leave a comment here, or leave a comment on the WWR Facebook page.

Winery

Grape

Vineyard

Date

Notes

Columbia Valley

Cave B

Sauvignon Blanc

Estate

10/6


Rasa

Riesling

Bacchus/Dionysus

10/7

5 tons

Waterville

Gewürztraminer

Cat’s Hollow

10/7


Waterville

Tempranillo

Cat’s Hollow

10/7

Just outside Wenatchee

Cave B

Sauvignon Blanc

Estate

10/10


--

Pinot Gris

Ancient Lakes

10/12


Cave B

Merlot

Estate

10/12


Yakima Valley

Maison Bleue

Mourvedre

Olsen

10/4

For Rose

Pacific Rim

Riesling

Hogue Ranches

10/7

First grapes of 2011.

--

Merlot

Roza Hills

10/8


--

Merlot

DuBrul

10/11


--

Merlot

Roza Hills

10/12


--

Merlot

Upland Farms

10/12


Coyote Canyon

Viognier

Coyote Canyon

10/12


Red Mountain

:Nota Bene

Cabernet Franc

Ciel du Cheval

10/8


:Nota Bene

Syrah

Ciel du Cheval

10/8


DeLille Cellars

Syrah

Ciel du Cheval

10/8

15 tons

Rasa

Syrah

Kiona

10/8

2 tons

Gorman

Syrah

Ciel du Cheval

10/8

Shiraz clone

Syncline

Grenache

Ciel du Cheval

10/8

First grapes of 2011

Syncline

Syrah

Ciel du Cheval

10/8

First grapes of 2011

Florentino

Syrah

Ciel du Cheval

10/8


--

Cabernet Franc

Ciel du Cheval

10/9


Taptiel

Cabernet

Taptiel

10/9

2.5 tons

Force Majuere

Mourvedre

Force Majeure

10/11

Not stolen this time!

Walla Walla Valley

Rasa

Syrah

Les Collines

10/8

3 tons

Rasa

Syrah

Les Collines

10/10

4 tons

Rasa

Cabernet

Les Collines

10/10

3 tons

Rasa

Syrah

Blue Mountain

10/10

3 tons

Tero

Cabernet

Windrow

10/13

For Windrow blend.

Tero

Cabernet Franc

Windrow

10/13

For Windrow blend.

Tero

Merlot

Windrow

10/13

For Windrow blend.

Tero

Malbec

Windrow

10/13

For Windrow blend.

Wahluke Slope

:Nota Bene

Grenache

StoneTree

10/8


:Nota Bene

Syrah

StoneTree

10/8


Rasa

Merlot

Weinbau

10/8


Angel Vine

Primitivo

StoneTree

10/9


Open Road

Viognier

Rosebud Ranch

10/11


Forgeron

Malbec

StoneTree

10/11


Forgeron

Primitivo

StoneTree

10/11


--

Merlot

Clifton Bluff

10/12


--

Chardonnay

Sundance

10/13


--

Chardonnay

Purple Sage

10/13


Rattlesnake Hills

Ott & Murphy

Viognier

Elephant Mt

10/3

First fruit of 2011

Horse Heaven Hills

--

Syrah

McKinley Springs

10/2


Domanico

Merlot

Alder Ridge

10/8

First fruit, 4 tons

Puget Sound

Whidbey Island

Pinot Noir

Estate

10/8

First vintage

Whidbey Island

Madeleine Angevine

Estate

10/15


| edit post

2 comments

  1. harveywine Says:
  2. Losing brix in the rain is not a bad thing as long as the physiological ripening continues, which it does. The risks of moisture are more with unwanted mold and mildew, or flavor dilution. 1 degree less alcohol is no big deal.

     
  3. Harvey, agreed. And as one winemaker wryly noted, a little rain saves them the trouble of having to water back!

     

Post a Comment

Follow

TN Database


Tasting Note Database Read an explanation of the fields here. Last updated 7/15/2014.

WA Wine Books

Blog Archive