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'17 Tour Guide

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Numbers released today in a 2017 Washington State grape acreage study showed a dramatic increase in Cabernet Sauvignon plantings.

In 2011, the last year this study was conducted, Washington had 10,293 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. This year the state has 18,608 acres – an increase of 81%. Red grape varieties in general showed 43% growth, from 24,998 acres in 2011 up to 35,852 acres in 2017, with Cabernet Sauvignon driving most of that change. White grape varieties increased at a more modest 4%. Overall acreage in the state was up 26% since 2011. Again, Cabernet Sauvignon was the major player. To wit, the state increased its acreage by 11,596 acres from 2011 to 2017. Cabernet Sauvignon accounted for 8,315 (72%) of those acres (note that some varieties decreased in acreage while others increased).

Of the Big Five grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon increased by 81%, Merlot by 10%, Syrah by 47%, Riesling by 6% and Chardonnay by a modest 2%.

For other red grape varieties, Pinot Noir (?!) showed the strongest growth at 65% followed by Malbec at 53% (it is worth noting that the catchall ‘Other Red’ category grew by 85%). A number of red grape varieties decreased in acreage, led by Barbera, which decreased by 43% (although the overall acreage numbers are quite small).

For other white grape varieties, Pinot Gris saw the largest increase (35%) followed by Sauvignon Blanc (24%). All other white varieties showed single digit increases or even decreases. Chenin Blanc saw the largest decrease at 68%. Sadly, Chenin Blanc – which includes some of Washington’s oldest grape vines - seems to be slipping away. There were 600 acres of Chenin Blanc planted in Washington in 1993 and 207 acres in 2011. Just 67 acres remain today.

Looking at appellation level data, Red Mountain showed the strongest growth, with a 48.1% increase in acreage from 2011 to 2017, followed by Horse Heaven Hills (40.9%), and Walla Walla Valley (26%). The Puget Sound appellation meanwhile showed a 42.7% decrease in acreage.

Of note, appellation level data was not recorded for the Ancient Lakes or Lewis-Clark Valley appellations. Additionally, only the Washington sections of the Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley appellations were included (presumably this was the case for the Columbia Valley as well although it is not explicitly stated). Of note, the percentage increase in acreage in the Walla Walla Valley in particular would be much larger if the Oregon side were included.

What do these data tell us? They confirm much of what the recent grape production data does, that Cabernet Sauvignon is becoming the major player in Washington. They also confirm that the state is tilting increasingly red. It's also worth noting that a number of grape varieties showed decreases in plantings. This indicates that growers and winemakers may be becoming a bit more focused. However, the large growth in the 'Other Reds' category shows that experimentation continues.

Find the complete report on-line here. The 2011 report can be found here. Found other interesting data or inconsistencies in this report? Leave a comment below or write me at wawinereport@gmail.com.

Acres
Acres
% change
Acres
% Change
Variety
2006
2011
from 2006
2017
from 2011
Chardonnay 
5,992
7,654
28%
7,782
2%
Chenin Blanc 
233
207
-11%
67
-68%
Gewurtztraminer 
632
775
23%
405
-48%
Muscat Canelli 
146
177
21%
133
-25%
Pinot Gris
488
1,576
223%
2,123
35%
Rousanne 
Not tracked
65
--
71
9%
Sauvignon Blanc 
993
1,173
18%
1,451
24%
Semillon
235
222
-6%
235
6%
Viognier
362
390
8%
402
3%
White Riesling 
4,404
6,320
44%
6,695
6%
Other white 
164
293
79%
230
-22%
Total whites

13,649
18,851
38%
19,593
4%
Barbera
Not tracked
70
--
40
-43%
Cabernet Franc 
1,157
972
-16%
685
-30%
Cabernet Sauvignon
5,959
10,293
73%
18,608
81%
Grenache
145
261
80%
212
-19%
Lemberger 
79
73
-8%
54
-26%
Malbec
196
378
93%
579
53%
Merlot
5,853
8,235
41%
9,071
10%
Mouverdre 
96
165
72%
126
-24%
Petit Verdot
131
301
130%
254
-16%
Pinot Noir 
314
307
-2%
506
65%
Sangiovese
206
185
-10%
134
-28%
Syrah
2,831
3,103
10%
4,572
47%
Tempranillo
Not tracked
94
--
73
-22%
Zinfandel
67
89
33%
65
-27%
Other red 
317
472
49%
874
85%
Total reds
17,351
24,998
44%
35,852
43%
All varieties
31,000
43,849
41%
55,445
26%



Acres
Acres
Appellation
2011
2017
% Change
Ancient Lakes
--
--
--
Columbia Gorge
394
355
-9.9%
Columbia Valley
7,469
8,010
7.2%
Horse Heaven Hills
10,584
14,909
40.9%
Lake Chelan
247
264
6.9%
Lewis-Clark Valley
--
--
--
Naches Heights
--
45
--
Puget Sound
178
102
-42.7%
Rattlesnake Hills
1,599
1,807
13.0%
Red Mountain
1,273
1,885
48.1%
Snipes Mountain
704
749
6.4%
Wahluke Slope
6,645
8,045
21.1%
Walla Walla Valley
1,304
1,645
26.2%
Yakima Valley
13,452
15,963
18.7%

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