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Harvest Report October 15th 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012


The past week in eastern Washington was notable for seeing limited amounts of rain – the first in several months. For most, this was a relief, cutting down on dust and clearing the air. Few growers or winemakers expected the rain to have any effect on harvest. Other than that, things are beginning to wind down for many.

Winemaker Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery and Force Majeure says, “Not much is happening in terms of ripening or degradation of the fruit. Things are in a holding pattern. There is possibly some dehydration, so we'll probably see an increase in Brix levels, but in terms of flavors in the vineyards we are working with, what we're going to get is already there.”

Despite the warm growing season, Mickel notes that the fruit has retained good acidity in the sites he works with. “I've only had one vineyard where acids have been out of whack…Not sure what the culprit is there because every other vineyard so far has had incredible pH/TA levels with most every other site/variety being in the 4.5 to 6.2 g/L range and pH of 3.45 to 3.55. Malic acids have also been on the lower side for us (1.2 g/L to 2.3 g/L). In past years we've had malic levels into the high 3's. This is probably because of the warm growing season we've had. This is nice as I don't expect to see too much of a pH shift at the end of ML, so our pH levels should end up in the 3.5 to 3.65 range across the board.” Ross Andrew is 85% complete with harvest, and Mickel expects to be finished in a week’s time.

Winemaker Mike Januik of Januik Winery and Novelty Hill notes just how unusual the extended stretch of perfect weather was this year. “This is my 29th harvest in Washington, and I can’t remember the weather ever cooperating as much as it has this fall,” Januik says. “Ordinarily, we would have seen at least a small amount of rain by now, but I haven’t seen a drop yet.” Januik picked his first fruit 20 days earlier this year than last, saying, “The only disadvantage of picking so early this year is that we had scheduled a trip to Louisiana to watch the Huskies play LSU and had to cancel!”

Like several winemakers have previously noted, Januik reports that berry sizes have been smaller this year and says it has led him to make adjustments at the winery. “We’ve dealt with it by managing our macerations a little differently. We prefer to pump over rather than punch down, and in a year like 2012 it is much easier for us to fine tune our macerations doing pumpovers.” Januik reports that he is about 75% through harvest and expects to be done by the end of next week.

At Woodward Canyon in the Walla Walla Valley, Rick Small says that the recent cold weather has made for some long days and nights. “The last week has been pretty hectic for us,” Small says. “Sub-freezing temperatures meant late night wind machine operation in addition to delivering bins, hauling grapes and making wine. Elevations (Woodward Canyon Estate Vineyard) above 600 feet saw little if any frost effect on canopy. The fruit above 600 feet continued to ripen perfectly and was harvested several days later.” Small wrapped up harvest at his estate vineyard last Thursday and says that he is 85% finished with harvest overall.

Looking back at the vintage, Small notes that one major factor in 2012 is what kind of winter issues the vineyards had the last two years. Speaking of his estate vineyard he says, “Vineyard blocks that were above 800 feet elevation or on very steep hillsides and survived winter injury in 2010 and 2011 produced amazing crops this year…In other locations near the Columbia River some winter injured vines are ripening fruit but rather unevenly. This requires amazing patience and great intestinal fortitude to wait, but we know that we must. This is where experience with the vineyard comes in.” Small also noted that he did not foresee any issues with the recent rains.

Meanwhile Evergreen Vineyard Manager Ryan Flanagan says 2012 has been a relief after the past two years. “It’s nice to be back to normal,” Flanagan says. “It’s really been a gorgeous growing season.” With much of Evergreen planted to Riesling, most of the picking is still in front of him but he says, “Canopies are just turning over right now. We’re right where we want to be.”

Flanagan notes that there has been one interesting aspect of this growing season. “One thing we’ve all been commenting on is the ripeness of the skins,” he says “The skins on the Riesling in particular are really thin. It’s a little nerve wracking. Luckily it’s been dry we haven’t see a real explosion of botrytis.”

Picture courtesy of Pepper Bridge Winery. Follow them on Facebook here and Twitter here.

* * *

Read previous harvest reports here.

See information on the Washington State Growing Degree Days here.

See monthly forecast for Yakima Valley (Sunnyside), Red Mountain (Benton City), Walla WallaPaterson, 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
Cedar River
Riesling
Burgess
10/11

Blooms
Petit Verdot
Kolibri
10/11

Blooms
Malbec
Kolibri
10/11

William Church
Malbec
Gamache
10/11

William Church
Viognier
Connor Lee
10/11

Kaella
Merlot
Conner Lee
10/13

Crayelle
Albarino
Evergreen
10/13

Yakima Valley
Manu Propia
Cabernet Sauv
Red Willow
10/3

Tero/Flying Trout
Malbec
Konnowac
10/9

Syncline
Grenache Blanc
Boushey
10/11

SOH
Cabernet Sauv
Raj Mahal
10/11

Maison Bleue
Grenache
Boushey
10/12

Ross Andrew
Syrah
Boushey
10/14

Red Mountain
Sonoris
Cabernet Sauv
Shaw
10/11

Sonoris
Cabernet Sauv
RMV
10/11

Liberty Lake
Petit Verdot
--
10/11

Guardian
Cabernet Sauv
Klipsun
10/12

Michael Florentino
Tempranillo
Ciel du Cheval
10/12

Guardian
Cabernet Sauv
--
10/13

Walla Walla Valley
Woodward Canyon
Mourvedre
Estate
10/11

Sleight of Hand
Merlot
Va Piano
10/12

Tero Estates/Flying Trout
Malbec
Windrow
10/12

Rattlesnake Hills
Andrew Will
Merlot
Two Blondes
10/8

Andrew Will
Malbec
Two Blondes
10/8

Cloudlift
Cabernet Sauv
Elephant Mt
10/9
Brix 26⁰, TA .69, pH3.41
Blooms
Syrah
Bosma’s
10/11

Blooms
Viognier
Bosma’s
10/11

Lake Chelan
Hard Row
Syrah
--
10/12
--
Wahluke Slope





Hard Row
Cabernet Sauv
--
10/11

Estrin Estates
Syrah
RiverBend
10/13

Horse Heaven Hills
Cloudlift
Cabernet Franc
Alder Ridge
10/9
Brix 26.6⁰, TA .6, pH 3.5
Cloudlift
Cabernet Sauv
Alder Ridge
10/9
Brix 25.9⁰ TA .6, pH3.42
Tero Estates/Flying Trout
Malbec
Alder Ridge
10/10
2 tons
Robert Ramsay
Syrah
McKinley Springs
10/11

Angel Vine
Zinfandel
Alder Ridge
10/11

Robert Ramsay
Cinsault
McKinley Springs
10/11

Adams Bench
Cabernet Sauv
May’s Discovery
10/12

Snipes Mountain
SOH
Grenache
Upland
10/11

Columbia Gorge
Syncline
Syrah
Steep Creek
10/12

Foundry
Chardonnay
White Salmon
10/12


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