Friday, September 14, 2012

Harvest Report - September 14th 2012

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.

9/14 Update: Across Washington this past week, growers and winemakers saw near perfect conditions with warm days and cool - even cold - nights. Whereas last week there was a small trickle of wineries starting to pick fruit, now more and more wineries are involved, with some beginning to pick red grapes.

Jarrod Boyle, owner and winemaker at Alexandria Nicole Cellars, says that the weather at his Destiny Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills has been ideal the past week and Brix levels are rising. “From September 4th to September 11th we saw around a 2 to 2.5 increase in Brix levels,” Boyle says. “The exciting part for us is that we are seeing the acid levels come down slowly, as opposed to taking a big dip as the sugar increases. Both the pH and acid levels are maintaining really good levels right now, so things are maintaining a really good balance. The weather has been great. We are still getting some heat in the afternoon, but it is cooling off significantly in the evenings.”

Marty Clubb, owner and managing winemaker of L’Ecole No 41, also notes that the evenings have cooled down considerably. “The last two nights have been in the 30s," he said yesterday. Clubb notes that this will help with color set. “While we saw great color set in Syrah and Cab, we had some Merlot that was slow to finish. That cold temperature is really going to snap that into place.” While these cold temperatures might seem to be a cause for concern, the long-term forecast across Washington shows nighttime temperatures rising into the 40s and 50s for the next several weeks.

Clubb says of the vintage, “It feels early because the last few years were so late, but this is what I would describe as the perfect start (to harvest). In a warm year, we would be starting in the beginning of September.” L’Ecole picked its first fruit yesterday, marking the start of the winery’s 30th harvest.

While heat accumulation in 2012 is close to the 20-year average, Rob Griffin of Barnard Griffin - who has been making wine in Washington since 1977 - says each vintage is still unique. "I remember many cool years and warm years but few years exactly like this one," he says. Griffin also adds the some perspective on recent vintages saying, "A ‘newbie’ winemaker will possibly view the last several years as anomalously cool while a dinosaur like me might consider the ‘90s and ‘00s as freakishly warm."

Jay Dewitt of Dumas Station says that the conditions at his vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley have been optimum almost since the outset. “The conditions from bud-break to present have been ideal for development of phenols,” Dewitt says. “Temperatures were cool pre-bloom, which restricts early canopy development and therefore berry size…Since bloom we have had consistent sunshine and warm temperatures. There have been occasional hot days, but nothing to cause any difficulties for the vines…The stored soil moisture was exhausted well before veraison which made it possible to create moderate drought stress prior to starting the irrigation.” Dewitt reports that his vineyards are 95% through veraison.

While the prospects for the 2012 vintage seem high, Jarrod Boyle echoes the thoughts of many when he says, “This has been a great year, but we still have a long ways to go.”

Though the warm, dry temperatures have been favorable for grape growing, they have contributed to numerous fires throughout the state. One of these fires - the one near White Salmon in the Columbia Gorge – came perilously close to a vineyard.

Steven Thompson, who leases and farms a vineyard just north of White Salmon, says, “The fire started off of Highway 141 due west and slightly north of the vineyard approximately two to three miles away at about 2pm Wednesday. It spread very rapidly uphill to the east and at 5pm we were evacuating all of the horses to safe ground, driving the tractors, trucks and equipment down the hill and evacuating the property. At that time flames were approximately 200 yards north from the house and vineyard. Helicopters were using the pond at the house to fill their water buckets for fire suppression.”

Mercifully, that was as close as the fire came and Thompson reports that there were no ill effects, saying, “Due to the favorable wind directions there wasn't any damage caused in the vineyard via fire or smoke.”

Picture of French Creek Chardonnay courtesy of Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars. Follow the winery on Facebook here and Twitter here).

* * *

See information on the Washington State Growing Degree Days here.

See 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

--

Chardonnay

Sagemoor

9/7


Novelty Hill

Sauvignon Blanc

Bacchus

9/7


Goose Ridge

Pinot Gris

Goose Ridge

9/7


--

Pinot Gris

Evergreen

9/12


Brian Carter

Sauvignon Blanc

Sagemoor

9/13


L’Ecole No 41

Merlot

Candy Mountain

9/13

First pick

Yakima Valley

Maison Bleue

Chardonnay

French Creek

9/11


EFESTE

Sauvignon Blanc

Boushey

9/11


Sleight of Hand

Chardonnay

French Creek

9/13

First pick

Red Mountain

Michael Florentino

Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc

Artz

9/7


Force Majeure

Syrah

Force Majeure, El Hueso



--

Merlot

Red Heaven

9/10


Kion

Gewurztraminer

Kiona

9/10


Guardian

Sauv Blanc

Klipsun

9/11

9.8 tons

JM Cellars

Sauv Blanc

Klipsun

9/12


L’Ecole No 41

Sauv Blanc

Klipsun

9/13

First pick

Cadence

Merlot

Taptiel

9/13

Beginning of harvest

Cadence

Merlot

Cara Mia

9/13


Walla Walla Valley

Woodward Canyon

Sauvignon Blanc

Estate

9/10


Seven Hills

Malbec

Seven Hills

9/12

(For Rose)

Woodward Canyon

Cabernet

Estate

9/13


Wahluke Slope

Rulo

Chardonnay

Sundance

9/10


Hard Row

Primitivo

--

9/13

Correction: Not picked yet

--

Merlot

Clifton

9/14


Brian Carter

Merlot

StoneTree

9/18


Horse Heaven Hills

Chateau Ste. Michelle

Sauvignon Blanc

Horse Heaven

9/7


Chateau Ste. Michelle

Sauvignon Blanc

Destiny Ridge

9/9


Alexandria Nicole

Pinot Gris

Destiny Ridge

9/11


Rotie Cellars

Marsanne

Alder Ridge

9/12


Rotie Cellars

Roussanne

Alder Ridge

9/12


Mercer Estates

Pinot Gris

Carma

9/12


Snipes Mountain

--

Sauvignon Blanc

Upland

9/5

First grapes

--

Syrah

Upland

9/14


No comments:

Post a Comment