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'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

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.

10/27 Update: First the good news. The season’s first frost occurred in eastern Washington early Tuesday morning, but most vineyards were not affected. Now the bad news. Wednesday morning temperatures were considerably colder, bringing the growing season to an end for some while sparing others. Current forecasts look to give vineyards that made it through unaffected potentially another week or more of hang time. For those that didn’t, time’s up.

The freezing level Wednesday looked to be at about 1,100 feet, putting low-lying areas of the Yakima Valley and Walla Walla Valley particularly at risk. However, it appears, at least at this early hour, that Walla Walla Valley saw minimal damage Wednesday. Areas of the Yakima Valley, Wahluke Slope, and Horse Heaven Hills do not appear to have been as fortunate.

“Frosted! Time's up,” one winemaker tweeted in the early hours on Wednesday. “Yakima valley frozen this am - not good at all,” another said. In the Yakima Valley, temperatures in Outlook and Zillah dipped as low as 27 degrees, with Prosser a chilly 26. No word yet on the extent of the frost damage. Many said wind machines were effective if vineyards had them to use.

Elsewhere in the valley, at Red Willow Vineyard’s weather station, which lies below the vineyard, temperatures reached 26 degrees. However, the hills above where the wine grapes are located did not see any damage due to slightly warmer temperatures.

Red Mountain’s Ciel du Cheval – a warm site that is in its last week of harvest – had areas that got down to 28 degrees Wednesday morning. However, vineyard manager Ryan Johnson reports that wind machines prevented damage. “I love those things!” Johnson says.

On Snipes Mountain at Upland Vineyard Todd Newhouse says, “We are in pretty good shape. The frost didn't get too far up the hill and wind machines really helped down low.”

On the Wahluke Slope, Mattawa reached a low of 25 degrees. In anticipation of the cold temperatures, Fielding Hills picked Cabernet Sauvignon off its Riverbend Vineyard on Tuesday. Vineyard managers elsewhere were still assessing whether there was any damage at the time of posting but temperature readings across the slope indicate a number may have been affected.

Evergreen Vineyard was picking fruit as fast as wineries could take it. Lawrence Vineyard on the Royal Slope got down to only 34, making it one of the warmer areas Wednesday morning.

In Paterson, temperatures went as low as 25 degrees. Several winemakers reported seeing frost damage in and around the Horse Heaven Hills area.

In Walla Walla Valley, Jan Roskelley of Tero Estates reported that Windrow Vineyard in the southern section of the valley got down to 32 degrees – not cold enough to cause damage. Richard Funk of Saviah Cellars, who has numerous vineyards in this area as well, noted that an inversion and wind machines prevented damage. On the other side of the valley, Anna Schafer at aMaurice Cellars reported that their estate vineyard was at 33.7 degrees. Nearby on Blue Mountain it was 34 with no signs of damage.

In the Columbia Valley, winemaker Brian Rudin at Cadaretta reported that Sagemoor escaped the freeze. Conner Lee employed their wind machines but didn’t see temperatures below 32.

It’s important to note that areas affected by frost are always highly variable depending on a variety of factors such as slope, aspect, and elevation. There can be significant differences, even within a vineyard. Minor factors can be the difference between damage and additional hang time.

If areas did freeze out, any potential effect on the 2011 vintage would be highly variable. The late ripening varietals, particularly the state’s large plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, would be particularly at risk. Overall, some vineyards were on the verge of picking their fruit anyway; some were hoping for a bit more development; and some were hoping for a good bit more. Given this, it will take time to untangle the full effects of Wednesday’s freeze. Stay tuned.

Photo of frost on Malbec grapes at Windrow Vineyard by Jan Roskelley of Tero Estates.
Photo of Syrah grapes with fall colors by Richard Funk of Saviah Cellars.
Photo of low-trained clusters on Force Majeure Vineyard by Ryan Johnson @fierceterroir.
Photo of grapes with fall colors by Chip McLaughlin @chipmclaughlin.
Photo of and by Anna Schafer at aMaurice Cellars foot stomping grapes.
Photo of Red Mountain by Jack Colby @nwwines.

Thanks to all who took these great shots and gave permission to use them! Click on the photos for higher resolution images.

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

Woodward Canyon

Cabernet

Sagemoor

10/20

5.5 tons

Rasa

Cabernet Franc

Flying B

10/21


Cave B

Chardonnay

Estate

10/21

12 tons

Tildio

Malbec

Stillwater Creek

10/21


Saviah

Chardonnay

Conner Lee

10/21


Rasa

Cabernet

Dionysus

10/22


Guardian

Syrah

Stillwater

10/26


Guardian

Cabernet Franc

Stillwater

10/26


Yakima Valley

Rasa

Merlot

Dubrul

10/21


Sleight of Hand

Merlot

Blackrock

10/25

3 tons

--

Carmenère

Gilbert

10/25


--

Cabernet Franc

Dineen

10/25


Sleight of Hand

Cabernet Franc

Blackrock

10/26


Masquerade

Syrah

Burgess

10/26


Naches Heights

Grenache

Two Coyote

10/27


Red Mountain

Force Majeure

Cabernet

Force Majeure

10/21

3,226 vines per acre

Force Majeure

Grenache

Force Majeure

10/22

First ever hillside pick

Swiftwater

Malbec

Kiona

10/22


Rasa

Cabernet

Kiona

10/22


Rasa

Touriga, TC, Souza

Red Heaven

10/22


--

Cabernet

Ciel du Cheval

10/24

Last week of harvest

Kiona

Sangiovese

Ranch at the End of the Road

10/25


Sleight of Hand

Cabernet

RMV

10/28


Walla Walla Valley

Woodward Canyon

Cabernet Franc

Estate

10/20


Rasa

Syrah

Funk

10/22


Rasa

Grenache

XL

10/23

2 tons

Rasa

Grenache

Monette’s

10/23


Saviah Cellars

Syrah

Estate

10/21


Saviah Cellars

Merlot

Estate

10/21


Saviah Cellars

Merlot

Estate

10/21


Va Piano

Merlot

Estate

10/25


Dumas Station

Syrah

Birch Creek

10/26


Dumas Station

Merlot

Minnick Hills

10/26


Dumas Station

Cabernet

Minnick Hills

10/26


--

Malbec

Windrow

10/26


aMaurice

Viognier

Estate

10/27


aMaurice

Malbec

Estate

10/27


aMaurice

Syrah

Estate

10/27


Wahluke Slope

Milbrandt

Merlot

Northridge

10/22


K Vintners

Syrah

Clifton Hill

10/24


Rasa

Cabernet Franc

Weinbau

10/27


Fielding Hills

Cabernet

Riverbend

10/25

Picked in anticipation of frost

Guardian

Syrah

StoneTree

10/26


Guardian

Cabernet Franc

StoneTree

10/26


Snipes

Florentino

Grenache

Upland

10/22


Smasne

Viognier

Upland

10/25


Horse Heaven Hills

Angel Vine

Zinfandel

Alder Ridge

10/21

25.1 Brix, pH 3.31, TA 7.40

Robert Karl

Cabernet

Phinney Hill

10/23

4 tons

Robert Karl

Cabernet Franc

Phinney Hill

10/23

4 tons

Coyote Canyon

Mourvedre

Coyote Canyon

10/24


Sleight of Hand

Cabernet

Phinney Hill

10/27


Lake Chelan

Hard Row to Hoe

Malbec

Chelan

10/26


Columbia Gorge

Dowsett

Gewurztraminer

Celilo

10/26


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