change in weather patterns this past week cleared out much of the smoke
that had been hanging over eastern Washington. Still, smoke does
persist in some areas. Several winemakers noted that ripening slowed
down this past week, with some wondering whether the haze from the smoke
contributed in some way.
“Last week slowed significantly from the previous two weeks, whether due to decreased sunlight because of smoke, lower temps, shorter days, I’m not sure,” Ben Smith at Cadence Winery says. Smith notes that, with the exception of Merlot, berry sizes have been smaller than average this year. “I recorded 0.78 grams per berry for Tapteil Cabernet Sauvignon, a record,” he says. Smith has been sourcing fruit from this vineyard for more than a decade.
Nicolas Quille of Pacific Rim, which dedicates itself to Riesling, also noted that ripening has slowed and wondered whether the smoke might have played a role. “Eastern Washington fog I guess,” Quille joked. “I think also that yields are high which is contributing to the slower ripening.” Nicault says that he has brought in about 20% of his total at this point and expects to be finished around the last week of October if all goes well – about three weeks ahead of last year. “I am seeing high acids overall - great for Riesling,” he says.
Marie-Eve Gilla of Forgeron Cellars agrees that the acid levels have held. “We’ve brought in lots of whites so far and noticed that the acids are holding up more than usual. I do not notice that so much on the reds,” Gilla says. “The flavors are certainly there and the seeds are brown even if the stems are not always totally lignified on the early varietals, but again I do not find the stems 100% lignified usually on Syrah and Merlot. It is definitely a year where yield will make a difference as the heavy cropped vineyards seem delayed for ripening.” Gilla estimates that, as of the middle of last week, she is 35% complete with harvest.
Todd Newhouse at Upland Vineyard also reports seeing smaller berries at his vineyard. “Smaller clusters and smaller berries across the board are keeping yields naturally in check and fruit concentration high,” Newhouse says. “Brix accumulation seemed to slow down once we got into the second and third weeks of September. This last week we have seen another spike but things remain steady without a sense of urgency.” Newhouse says that he expects harvest to continue on Snipes Mountain into the third or final week of October, weather permitting.
Looking back on the 2012 growing season, grower and winemaker Mike Wade of Fielding Hills Winery says of his vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, “The large amount of rain we received right after bloom was unusual. This presented a big surge in vine growth that was a little different to handle. This resulted in not beginning irrigation until later than normal and more cluster thinning than normal.” Wade, who expected to pick his first fruit this past weekend says that the sequencing of grapes is proceeding normally, unlike the previous two years.
Current forecasts show October temperatures ranging from highs in the seventies to lows in the upper thirties with no precipitation anticipated (see forecasts by area below).
Pictures courtesy of Kaella Winery (Syrah punchdown with 20% whole cluster and juice from Sangiovese Rose'). Follow the winery 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment here, or leave a comment on the WWR Facebook page.
|Ste. Michelle||Riesling||Lawrence||9/28||Earliest pick to date|
|Ste. Michelle||Syrah||Cold Creek||9/28|
Art Den hoed
|--||Cabernet Sauv||Red Heaven||9/24|
|Sleight of Hand||Merlot||Blackrock||9/25|
|Gorman||Syrah||End of the Road||9/26|
|Michael Florentino||Counoise||Ciel du Cheval||9/27|
|Michael Florentino||Syrah||Ciel du Cheval||9/27|
|Force Majeure||Mourvedre||Force Majeure||9/28|
|Cadence||Petit Verdot||Cara Mia||9/28|
|Michael Florentino||Syrah||Ciel du Cheval||9/29|
Walla Walla Valley
|Tranche||Grenache||Blue Mountain||9/27||For Rose’|
|Hard Row||Sauvignon Blanc||Lonesome Springs||9/26|
|Hard Row||Viognier||Lonesome Springs||9/26|
|Va Piano||Syrah||Portteus||9/28||First pick of year|
|Sleight of Hand||Grenache||Clifton Bluffs||9/25|
|Angel Vine||Zinfandel||StoneTree||9/29||Petite Sirah 10/4|
Horse Heaven Hills
|Cana’s Feast||Merlot||Destiny Ridge||9/24|
|Owen Roe||Syrah||Destiny Ridge||9/27|