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2011 Harvest Report - October 20th Edition

Thursday, October 20, 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.

10/20 Update: This week has been the one many growers and winemakers have been waiting for. The end of last week, again, brought some wet weather to eastern Washington. Nighttime temperatures near Red Mountain dipped into the upper thirties over the weekend, cold but not cold enough to present any frost issues. In recent days the sun has come back out, and the forecast currently shows no rain expected over the next week.

As a result, harvest has accelerated considerably with many wineries (finally) bringing in large amounts of fruit. For many, at this point, harvest has become a scheduling exercise of making pickups and determining when fermentation space will be available.

Many have noted that the acids this year have not been as high as 2011 and that acid levels are dropping quickly. An abundance of fruit still remains out there. Notably, Cabernet Sauvignon started coming in from warmer sites such as vineyards on Red Mountain and Sagemoor, signaling the beginning of the end for some. Look for harvesting of white grapes in many areas to continue into the first week of November and reds into the second week, assuming, of course, the weather cooperates.

* * *

The main story of this vintage will almost certainly be lower alcohol wines. Winemaker Ben Smith of Cadence Winery, which sources all of its fruit from Red Mountain, says that there is very little chance of over ripe fruit this year. “I’ve picked only one lot over 24.5 Brix, so we’re looking at finished alcohol around 13.8% and lower,” Smith says. Harvest for Smith is wrapping up as he brings in his last batches. “Canopies are shutting down, leaves are being dropped, and there won’t be any more true ripening accumulation of sugar.” Interestingly, Smith also notes that this year’s berries are 15-20% larger than average.

John Bigelow of Woodinville’s JM Cellars agrees that sugar levels are lower. “Sugars have ranged from 23.8 brix to 25 brix and the acids have been excellent,” Bigelow says. “The acids are less than last year, but plenty to work with. The best part of this vintage so far has been the flavors in the grapes; very pronounced and tasty.” Like many, John Bigelow of JM Cellars says that it has been an odd year. “This is definitely the strangest harvest I have seen in 14 years of winemaking. However, I love strange harvests for the potential of creating unique, spectacular vintages,” he says.

Many winemakers have enjoyed what the cooler temperatures have given them. “I prefer vintages like this that have a more ‘tame’ aspect to them,” winemaker Sean Boyd of Woodinville Wine Cellars says. “In all the vineyards we source from there have been no ‘green’ flavors for the most part. Flavors are nice and not too syrupy. Acids are nice and natural.”

Milbrandt Vineyards’ Joshua Maloney provides a comic take on the lower sugar levels, noting that Brix and therefore alcohol levels, have risen in recent years. “I think that this year 24 Brix is the new 27,” Maloney says. “Coincidentally, 27 Brix used to be the new 24…. so I guess that 24 Brix is the new 24?”

Another winemaker says wryly of the lower alcohol wines, “All those Francophile somms? This is the year for them.”

Picture of pressed Merlot by Tyler Harlington, Cellar Master at Saviah Cellars. Picture of botrytis on Riesling at Upland Vineyard by Amy Gross @vinesleuth, vinesleuth.com/uncorked.

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

Nefarious

Sauvignon Blanc

Sagemoor

9/26


--

Riesling

KBW

10/15

Royal Slope

Waterville

Chardonnay

Homestead

10/15

21 Brix

Angel Vine

Zinfandel

Avery

10/15


Chateau Ste. Michelle

Merlot

Canoe Ridge

10/17


Chateau Ste. Michelle

Merlot

Cold Creek

10/17


Milbrandt

Chardonnay

Evergreen

10/17


L’Ecole

Cabernet

Bacchus

10/17


L’Ecole

Cabernet

Dionysus

10/17


Northwest Totem Cellars

Cabernet Franc

Sagemoor

10/18


--

Riesling

Evergreen

10/20

Riesling marathon begins!

Kaella

Merlot

Conner Lee

10/19


Forgeron

Cabernet

Dionysus

10/20


Forgeron

Petit Verdot

Dionysus

10/20


Woodward Canyon

Cabernet

Sagemoor

10/20


Yakima Valley

Fidelitas

Merlot

Boushey

10/13


Efeste

Syrah

Red Willow

10/13

18 tons

Eleven

Viognier

Sugarloaf

10/14


--

Riesling

Roza Hills

10/15


Forgeron

Merlot

Boushey

10/17


L’Ecole

Cabernet

Candy Mountain

10/17


--

Syrah

Olsen

10/18


--

Riesling

Roza Hills

10/18


--

Pinot Gris

Art Denhoed

10/18


Forgeron

Marsanne

Boushey

10/18


--

Syrah

Olsen

10/19


--

Syrah

Denhoed, Suholdonik

10/19

For rose.

Forgeron

Syrah

Boushey

10/19


L’Ecole

Chardonnay

Oasis

10/19


Red Mountain

Cadence

Merlot

Cara Mia

9/22


Cadence

Merlot

Ciel du Cheval

9/28


Cadence

Merlot

Taptiel

9/28


Cadence

Cabernet

Taptiel

9/29


Wind Rose

Barbera

Red Heaven

10/3

2 tons

Cadence

Cabernet

Cara Mia

10/5

Clone 191

Cadence

Cabernet Franc

Cara Mia

10/5

Clone 214

Cadence

Petit Verdot

Ciel du Cheval

10/5


Cadence

Cabernet

Cara Mia

10/7

Clone 169

Cadence

Cabernet Franc

Cara Mia

10/7

01

Force Majeure

Cabernet Franc

Force Majeure

10/13

Last of Cab Franc

Andrew Will

Petit Verdot

Ciel du Cheval

10/13


Cadence

Cabernet

Cara Mia

10/13

08

Cadence

Cabernet Franc

Cara Mia

10/13

327

Cadence

Petit Verdot

Cara Mia

10/13


Cadence

Cabernet Franc

Ciel du Cheval

10/17

Scheduled

Cadence

Cabernet Franc

Taptiel

10/17

Scheduled

L’Ecole

Semillon

Klipsun

10/17


Col Solare

Merlot

Estate

10/18


Sleight of Hand

Cabernet

Red Mountain

10/18

4.6 tons

Cadence

Cabernet

Ciel du Cheval

10/19

Scheduled

Quilceda

Cabernet

Galitzine

10/19


Force Majeure

Cabernet

Force Majeure

10/19


--

Cabernet

Ciel du Cheval

10/19


EFESTE

Syrah

Ciel du Cheval

10/19


EFESTE

Syrah

Klipsun

10/19


Walla Walla Valley

Tero

Merlot

Windrow

10/15


Tero

Cab Franc

Windrow

10/15


L’Ecole

Syrah

Seven Hills

10/15


L’Ecole

Semillon

Les Collines

10/17


L’Ecole

Summitville

Cabernet

10/17

SeVein

Trio Vintners

Tempranillo

Les Collines

10/18

24 Brix

L’Ecole

Merlot

Ferguson Ridge

10/18


Northstar

Merlot

Anna Marie

10/19


L’Ecole

Cabernet

Seven Hills

10/19


L’Ecole

Syrah

Seven Hills

10/19

Last of 7H Syrah

Sleight of Hand

Syrah

Les Collines

10/21

Block 23 & 50

Sleight of Hand

Syrah

Funk

10/21


Wahluke Slope

Wind Rose

Primitivo

StoneTree

9/28

2.66 tons

Milbrandt

Chardonnay

Sundance

10/14


--

Chardonnay

Purple Sage

10/14


Bergevin Lane

Merlot

StoneTree

10/14

Also 10/15, 10/16

Wind Rose

Barbera

StoneTree

10/14

1 ton

Angel Vine

Zinfandel

StoneTree

10/15


Angel Vine

Petite Sirah

StoneTree

10/15


Milbrandt Wines

Merlot

Sundance

10/15


Fielding Hills

Merlot

Riverbend

10/17


--

Sangiovese

Jones

10/17


--

Merlot

Talcott

10/17


Milbrandt

Merlot

Clifton Hills

10/18


Milbrandt

Syrah

Katherine Leone

10/18


Woodward Canyon

Merlot

Weinbau

10/18


Milbrandt

Grenache

Clifton Hills

10/19


Milbrandt

Grenache

Clifton Bluff

10/19


Milbrandt

Syrah

Clifton

10/19


Blooms

Viognier

Bosma

10/19


Blooms

Chardonnay

Bosma

10/19


Snipes

--

Sauvignon Blanc

Upland

9/19


--

Pinot Gris

Upland

9/28


--

Merlot

Upland

9/30


--

Syrah

Upland

9/30


--

Tempranillo

Upland

10/1


--

Chardonnay

Upland

10/4


Florentino

Tempranillo

Upland

10/17


--

Grenache

Upland

10/19


Blooms

Semillon

Upland

10/19


Horse Heaven Hills

Coyote Canyon

Syrah

Coyote Canyon

10/13


Robert Karl

Malbec

McKinley Springs

10/13


Woodward Canyon

Syrah

Champoux

10/14

First reds of 2011

Mercer

Sangiovese

Spice Cabinet

10/14


L’Ecole

Grenache

Alder Ridge

10/15

For rose

Forgeron

Zinfandel

Alder Ridge

10/20

Maybe 10/21

Lake Chelan

Mellisoni

Pinot Grigio

South shore area

10/8

2.17 tons

--

Pinot Noir

DuLia

10/12

9.1 tons, 2.5 acres

Tildio

Merlot

North shore area

10/13


--

Chardonnay

DuLia

10/14


Mellisoni

Gewurztraminer

South shore area

10/15


Hard Row

Pinot Noir

Unknown

10/19

For blanc de noir

Puget Sound

Mount Baker Vineyards

Siegerrebe

Estate

10/13


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