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Harvest Report October 4th 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Harvest in Washington this past week saw wet weather along with a continuation of the cool temperatures from the end of September. For most I spoke or e-mailed with, neither seemed to present significant concerns.

Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery said of the rain, “This hasn’t been a problem for us with the mid to late season reds with thicker skins. We’ve had no rot, no wet grapes, no soggy bottoms of the picking bins so we don’t have a problem with rain that may have fallen.”

Betz has been glad to see the cooler temperatures that have come along with the wetter weather. “We’re glad we didn’t panic in early to mid September and pick too much too quickly,” he said. “We were patient, tasted and sampled frequently and waited for flavor…We stayed our course and, in retrospect, are really glad we did. We heard some angst from some who regret picking too early. The mid to late September cool down has eliminated the flavor lag. Things have balanced out and we are really pleased.”

Over on Goose Ridge, winemaker Kendall Mix of Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard and Winery said last weekend’s rains had minimal impact. “The rain only impacted us on one day,” he said (Saturday). “After the winds picked up, everything dried out very quickly and we picked right up where we left off.” Mix said the wind has contributed to some shrivel in Syrah and other varieties. “Flavors in the reds are progressing nicely with the cool night time temperatures, but have stalled a little in Riesling,” he added.

During the warmth of the summer and into mid-September, Mix expected this year’s harvest to be quite different. “Early on, it seemed like harvest was going to go gang busters right off the back,” he said.  “Everything looked like it was ripening up at the same time and we were going to be in a mad scramble to bring everything in at once. Then it never really materialized.”


Betz agreed. “The battle plan we had before harvest changed as did the weather: we had thought things would be incredibly compressed.  But with the cool down it has given the vines a chance to slow down, accumulate flavor, and remain balanced.”

Mix believes the change in temperatures at the end of September will benefit some. “I think it has worked out that the better reds are going to come from higher cropped vines that ripened after the nights cooled off,” he said. “The lower cropped reds were harvested when it was still warm, and
had lots of sugar but maybe not as much flavor.”

Resident winemaker Gilles Nicault at Long Shadows, who sources fruit from The Benches in the Horse Heaven Hills as well as throughout the Columbia Valley, said that the change in weather had some other positive effects. “This cooler weather has helped to slow down the pace at the winery and gave us time to bring our full attention to the first leg of crush,” he said.

Nicault said that his vineyards got between 0.5 (Yakima Valley) to 2 inches (Walla Walla Valley) of rain last weekend but that he did not see it presenting any issues. However, he added the caveat, “We now need the weather to get more stable and it seems it will. The temperatures won't go past the 70 degrees but we are expecting dry weather.” 

Nicault noted that acid levels were dropping in Riesling so they were picking the fruit earlier. “Most of the other varieties are doing okay on acid but are lower than the last three years indeed,” he said.

At Double Canyon Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, grower William Beightol said, “Up to the point two weeks ago brix numbers were traveling ahead of normal, but with the change in weather they have really leveled off in the 23 to 24 range. This should help us not rush harvesting the fruit prior to getting the flavors the winemakers are after.”

However, Beightol said that the cooler weather did present some potential issues. “The big concern for us right now is not seeing a lot of warm weather on the forecast for October,” he said. “It is a very exciting vintage from a winegrower’s perspective, but we will always need a good October to make the best out of any year.”


Picture of Stillwater Creek Vineyard Merlot being pressed courtesy of Adams Bench Winery. Follow the winery on Facebook here. All other pictures by Richard Duval.


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
SuLei
Cab Franc
Lodmell
9/28

Rasa
Cab Franc
Echo Ridge
9/28

Rasa
Cab Sauv
Echo Ridge
9/28

Sonoris
Petit Verdot
Dionysus
10/2

--
Syrah
Lawrence
10/2

--
Malbec
Lawrence
10/2

--
Grenache
Lawrence
10/2

--
Viognier
Lawrence
10/2

--
Petit Verdot
Dionysus
10/3

Sleight of Hand
Syrah
Lewis
10/3

Yakima Valley
Cloudlift
Grenache
Elephant Mt
9/26

Domaine Pouillon
Grenache Blanc
Boushey
9/28

Domaine Pouillon
Picpoul
Boushey
9/28

Domaine Pouillon
Marsanne
Boushey
9/28

--
Syrah
DuBrul
9/30
Last of syrah
Cultura
Merlot
Meek Family
10/2
6 tons
Syncline
Grenache Blanc
Boushey
10/3

Red Mountain
College Cellars
Barbera
Ciel du Cheval
9/26
For Port-style wine
Sleight of Hand
Cab Sauv
RMV
10/2
Block D
--
Cab Sauv
Kiona
10/3

Maloney Wine
Cab Sauv
Scooteney Flats
10/3

Walla Walla
College Cellars
Syrah
Cockburn Ranch
9/26

College Cellars
Viognier
Clarke
9/26

College Cellars
Semillon
Clarke
9/27

Walla Walla Vintners
Malbec
Dwelley
9/27

Walla Walla Vintners
Malbec
Pepper Bridge
9/27

Walla Walla Vintners
Cab Franc
Waliser
9/27

Walla Walla Vintners
Merlot
Estate
9/27
Clone 15
JM Cellars
Cab Franc
Margaret’s
10/1

Cadaretta
Syrah
Southwind
10/1

WT Vintners
Syrah
Les Collines
10/1

Balboa
Syrah
Estate
10/2

Kerloo
Syrah
Les Collines
10/2
Block 43-46
Kerloo
Syrah
Va Piano
10/2
Block 6
Rasa
Syrah
Les Collines
10/3

Mackey
Syrah
Estate
10/3

Wahluke Slope
Dusted Valley
Petite Sirah
StoneTree
9/26

--
Cab Franc
StoneTree
9/27

--
Zinfandel
StoneTree
9/27

Gilbert
Syrah
Doc Stewart
9/29

Ste. Michelle
Syrah
StoneTree
10/2

Milbrandt
Syrah
Clifton Hill
10/2

Fielding Hills
Cab Sauv
RiverBend
10/3

Horse Heaven Hills
Gilbert
Merlot
Alder Ridge
9/25

Angel Vine
Zinfandel
Alder Ridge
10/7
Scheduled


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