Overview


Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Northwest wine to you and bringing you to Northwest wine. Our goal is:
  • To help you select Pacific Northwest wines at a variety of price levels
  • To keep you up-to-date about the Northwest’s wineries, vineyards, and individuals
  • To help you plan trips to wine country
  • To connect you to the larger wine community

Search

'16 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Talking about the 2014 growing season in Washington, winemaker Josh Maloney of Milbrandt Vineyards summed it up by quoting the movie Biloxi Blues: “Man it's hot. It's like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn't take this kind of hot.”

 Indeed, 2014 has been another warm growing season in Washington. Most markers from budbreak through veraison have been approximately one to two weeks ahead of historical averages due to the warmth of the year. “Things started early and never slowed down, pretty much across the board,” Maloney said.

Growers and vintners didn’t have to look back far to find a comparable year. “The 2014 season started out as a repeat of 2013 in terms of early, warm spring, near record breaking heat in July and early August,” said Wade Wolfe of Thurston Wolfe Winery, who sources fruit predominantly from the Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley. “But then it shifted to the 'average' mode for most of August and so far into September.”

As one might expect, the largest impact of the warm temperatures has been on sugar accumulation. “Super high sugars,” said Hillary Sjolund of the winemaking consulting service Enomama. Sjolund, who also has her own winery Sonoris, works primarily with fruit from Red Mountain – typically Washington’s warmest appellation.

“I went through 70+ vineyard samples yesterday and, for reds, I couldn’t even find one under 25 Brix right now,” Sjolund said, referring to a measure of sugar accumulation. Sjolund said that, to compensate for the higher sugars - and the potentially higher alcohol levels that would result – many winemakers will saignée their fermenting tanks, a process of bleeding off some of the juice. They will then add water back to bring down the alcohol.

While a common practice in warmer regions and in warmer vintages, Sjolund noted that this could be challenging when berries get dehydrated, as has been happening recently on Red Mountain. “You’re getting more sugar release from dehydrated berries,” she said. “So you think that you’re watering back to 24.5 Brix when in reality you might be watering back to 25.5 or 26. I think some people are going to have higher alcohols than they are going to anticipate.” 

Winemaker Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars agreed many winemakers would take the route Sjolund described. “We prefer to make the wine in the vineyard but in a warm vintage when sugars are going up so quickly and you’re waiting for flavors, you’re waiting for seed development, and you’re waiting for tannin development - and you’re dealing with high Brix - those are the things that you have to do,” he said. Busch noted, however, that if done properly, the concentration of the resulting wine is not affected while quality is improved.

“It’s definitely a winemaker’s kind of year,” Sjolund said. “It’s a great growing season in the sense that everything is getting ripe. But we’re going to have to work more with this ripeness to make sure we make a balanced product.”

While most people I spoke with reported higher sugar accumulations, in some areas, the results have been more variable. Maloney works with fruit from across the Columbia Valley. “Like last year, the excessive heat doesn’t seem to have as much impact on ripeness and timing of our warmer sites, but we are seeing higher Brix and lower acids in the cooler sites for this time of year than we would normally expect,” Maloney said. “Whatever normal means now is anyone’s guess.”

Wolfe also noted that the warm season has decreased differences between cooler and warmer areas. “Cooler sites, such as the Yakima Valley, are ripening at the same time as traditionally warmer sites, such as Horse Heaven Hills,” he said, noting that different varieties have shown different effects as well. “Bordeaux varieties, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, seem to be ripening sooner than usual compared to other varieties.”

Differences have also been reported from 2013 in cluster and berry size, with some reporting that they have seen smaller sizes and others larger. “Our own count at Seven Hills, we’re running 20 berries per cluster over last year,” said Marty Clubb of L’Ecole No 41. “We’re also - at least at Seven Hills - seeing berry sizes inflated about ten percent from last year.” Clubb, who attributed this largely to a good fruit set at bloom, said the result has been as much as a half ton more fruit per acre than originally forecast.

 On Red Mountain, however, Sjolund, said berry sizes have been somewhat smaller, at least in the vineyard samples she has been receiving. “The Cabernet berry sizes are small,” she said. “Compared to 2013, at this level of ripeness, I did not see the hardness of those berries like I’m seeing this year.” 

Despite the warmth of the year, many winemakers are pleased with how the growing season has progressed to date. “We are very excited about the quality of what we have so far,” Maloney said. “It looks like we’ve got some great conditions for the foreseeable future. We think we might be looking at another banner vintage.”

Picture of Red Mountain Merlot pumpover courtesy of Sleight of Hand Cellars (Follow on Facebook). 
Picture of the first rack and return of the year courtesy of Long Shadows (Follow on Facebook). 
Picture of Merlot bin courtesy of Robert Ramsay Cellars (Follow on Facebook). 

***


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
Three Rivers
Chardonnay
Bacchus
8/25


Chardonnay
Sagemoor
8/25

--
Sauv Blanc
Sagemoor
8/25

DeLille
Sauv Blanc
Sagemoor
8/27

--
Syrah
Wooded Island
9/1
First red
Tamarack
Chardonnay
Bacchus
9/2
First grapes
L’Ecole
Merlot
Candy Mt
9/5
First red grapes
WWalla Vintners
Merlot
Sagemoor
9/8
2.5 tons
Vin du Lac
Chardonnay
Stillwater
9/9

Gordon
Chardonnay
Estate
9/11

Guardian
Chardonnay
Conner Lee
9/14

Rasa
Syrah
Bacchus
9/15
2 tons
Saviah
Chardonnay
Stillwater
9/16

Three Rivers
Malbec
Sagemoor
9/16

Long Shadows
Merlot
Candy Mt
9/16

Convergence Zone
Riesling
Bacchus
9/17

--
Sauv Blanc
Lawrence
9/18

--
Chardonnay
Lawrence
9/18

L’Ecole
Cabernet Sauv
Bacchus
9/18
Old block
Yakima Valley
--
Pinot Noir
Canyon Ranch
8/23
For sparkling
Sleight of Hand
Chardonnay
French Creek
9/1

Tamarack
Chardonnay
French Creek
9/2

--
Sauv Blanc
Skyfall
9/2

EFESTE
Sauv Blanc
Boushey
9/4
10 tons
Treveri
Chardonnay
Beeman
9/4
For sparkling
--
Chardonnay
Willow Crest
9/4
For sparkling
Gramercy
Syrah
Red Willow
9/5
Chapel Block
Treveri
Pinot Noir
Marchant
9/9
For sparkling
Sleight of Hand
Cabernet Franc
Blackrock
9/10
For rose
--
Syrah
Skyfall
9/11

Wind Rose
Sangiovese
Lonesome Spr
9/12
For rose
Wind Rose
Dolcetto
Lonesome Spr
9/12
For rose
--
Pinot Gris
Art Den Hoed
9/12

Gramercy
Syrah
Red Willow
9/14

Sleight of Hand
Merlot
Blackrock
9/15

Stottle
Merlot
Marcela
9/15

--
Merlot
DuBrul
9/16

Wind Rose
Orange Muscat
Lonesome Spr
9/16
4 tons
--
Syrah
DuBrul
9/17

Adams Bench
Merlot
Red Willow
9/17
1989 block
--
Merlot
Skyfall
9/17

--
Cabernet Sauv
Skyfall
9/17

Lady Hill
Syrah
Red Willow
9/18

Cairdeas
Marsanne
Boushey
9/20

Bartholomew
Malbec
Painted Hills
9/22

Red Mountain
L’Ecole
Sauv Blanc
Klipsun
8/27
First grapes of harvest
Auclair
Sauv Blanc
Artz
8/30

Auclair
Sauv Blanc
Artz
8/30

Cadence
Merlot
Cara mia
9/4
Earliest harvest ever, yields down
Cadence
Merlot
Taptiel
9/4

--
Sauv Blanc
Red Heaven
9/4

Seven Hills
Merlot
Ciel du Cheval
9/5
1976 plantings
Vin du Lac
Merlot
Klipsun
9/5

Vin du Lac
Syrah
Klipsun
9/5

Sleight of Hand
Merlot
RMV
9/11

Obelisco
Merlot
Estate
9/12

--
Syrah
Red Heaven
9/15

Obelisco
Cabernet Sauv
Estate
9/16
Off south facing blocks. Three weeks earlier than usual.
Sleight of Hand
Cabernet Sauv
Scooteney
9/16
Clones 2, 8, 21, and 24
EFESTE
Syrah
Angela’s
9/17

JM
Syrah
Ciel du Cheval
9/17
Old vine
Cadence
Cab Franc
Taptiel
9/17

Cadence
Petit Verdot
Cara Mia
9/17

Cadence
Cabernet Sauv
Cara Mia
9/17
Clone 8
Native Sun
Merlot
Red Mountain
9/18
First fruit
Walla Walla Valley
Woodward Canyon
Sauv Blanc
Estate
9/3
First fruit
Woodward Canyon
Chardonnay
Estate
9/4
Wente clone.
Tranche
Viognier
Blue Mountain
9/4

Waterbrook
Chardonnay
Waterbrook
9/9

Woodward Canyon
Merlot
Estate
9/10
First red grapes
L’Ecole
Semillon
Seven Hills
9/12
Last pick of Sémillon
WW Vintners
Merlot
Seven Hills
9/13
Block 17
Kerloo
Grenache Blanc
Blue Mt
9/15

Woodward Canyon
Dolcetto
Estate
9/15

Rasa
Syrah
Seven Hills
9/15
Only Les Collines to pick
Gifford-Hirlinger
Pinot Gris
Estate
9/17

Burnt Bridge
Syrah
Les Collines
9/17

Tertulia
Tempranillo
Whistling Hills
9/17

Sleight of Hand
Merlot
Seven Hills
9/17
4.4 tons
Three Rivers
Cab Franc
Estate
9/17
For rose
Sleight of Hand
Syrah
Stoney Vine
9/18
Experimenting with lower pH pick
J&J
Merlot
Seven Hills
9/19
Block 24
J&J
Merlot
Middleton
9/21

Wahluke Slope
Three Rivers
Chardonnay
Weinbau
8/28

Cadaretta
Semillon
Rosebud
9/4
First day of harvest
Seven Hills
Merlot
Clifton
9/4
First grapes of 2014. Earliest Merlot in 27 years
--
Syrah
Clifton
9/9

--
Syrah
Clifton Bluffs
9/10

--
Merlot
Clifton Hills
9/11

McKinley Springs
Chardonnay
McKinley Springs
9/12

--
Tempranillo
Wahluke
9/12

--
Grenache
Clifton Bluffs
9/13

Milbrandt
Viognier
Clifton
9/14

Columbia Crest
Merlot
StoneTree
9/15

Cadaretta
Syrah
StoneTree
9/16

Wind Rose
Primitivo
StoneTree
9/16

Kerloo
Tempranillo
StoneTree
9/17

Horse Heaven Hills
Canoe Ridge
Unknown
Estate
8/21
Via Facebook
Mercer
Chardonnay
Estate
9/3
First fruit
Coyote Canyon
Viognier
Estate
9/9

Columbia Crest
Merlot
Coyote Canyon
9/9
First red grapes
Coyote Canyon
Merlot
Estate
9/10
Machine picked
Waters
Roussanne
Alder Ridge
9/12
4.51 tons
Waters
Merlot
Canoe Ridge
9/12

McKinley Springs
Chardonnay
Estate
9/12

Waters
Merlot
Canoe Ridge
9/13

McKinley Springs
Syrah
Estate
9/14

Coyote Canyon
Albariño
Estate
9/15

Tertulia
Malbec
Phinny Hill
9/16

Ch Ste. Michelle
Sauv Blanc
Horse Heaven
9/16

WT Vintners
Syrah
Destiny Ridge
9/16

--
Syrah
Phinny Hill
9/17
174
Long Shadows
Syrah
The Benches
9/17

Angel Vine
Primitivo
Coyote Canyon
9/17
4 tons
Robert Karl
Merlot
Andrews
9/17

Robert Karl
Malbec
McKinley Spr
9/17

Robert Ramsay
Syrah
McKinley Spr
9/17

Robert Ramsay
Syrah
Phinny Hill
9/17

Syncline
Grenache
McKinley Spr
9/18

Buty
Syrah
Phinny Hills
9/18
Clone 174
Bartholomew
Primitivo
Coyote Canyon
9/19

Snipes Mountain
--
Sauv Blanc
Upland
9/6

--
Pinot Gris
Upland
9/6

--
Canelli
Upland
9/8

--
Grenache
Upland
9/10

--
Syrah
Upland
9/12

--
Pinot Noir
Upland
9/14
Sparkling
--
Tempranillo
Upland
9/15

--
Chardonnay
Upland
9/15

Rolling Bay
Syrah
Upland
9/16

Rolling Bay
Merlot
Upland
9/16

--
Cab Franc
Upland
9/17

Vin du Lac
Chardonnay
Upland
9/18

Vin du Lac
Syrah
Upland


Vin du Lac
Cabernet Franc
Upland




| edit post

0 comments

Post a Comment

Follow

TN Database


Tasting Note Database Read an explanation of the fields here. FINAL UPDATE 6/13/2015.

Blog Archive