That’s a Wrap!

Longer growing season results in higher yields and excellent quality.

Yakima Valley, Wash — (Oct. 20, 2016) — The 2016 winegrape harvest is winding down in the Yakima Valley. The overall impression: Great vintage.

Last winter’s mild wet weather and early spring allowed the vines to warm up early. Couple that with the 2015 drought, and you get grapevines with a lot of stored capacity. Once the weather warmed up, the vines took off like a shot producing yields slightly above average.

“The weather throughout the growing season aided in the production of quality fruit” says Todd Newhouse, co-owner of Upland Vineyard located in Snipes Mtn. sub AVA in the Yakima Valley. “The crop load is a bit heavier this year but the fruit is exceptionally good.” Harvest at Upland Vineyards is expected to wrap up 10/28/16, slightly earlier than average.

The Yakima Valley experienced a mild summer giving adequate time for ripening and development, according to Kerry Shiels, co-owner of DuBrul Vineyard located in the heart of the Yakima Valley. “We had an extended hang time allowing for more flavor development and phenological maturity (tannin development) resulting in good yields and excellent quality.” Shiels also noted this year’s juice is exceptionally intense in color. Harvest wrapped up on 10/19/16, approximately 10 days earlier than average.

Jonathon Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard on the far west end of the Yakima Valley AVA started the year off earlier than last.  “The summer was a bit of a roller coaster – following through to harvest” according to Sauer.  Red Willow’s harvest started just days ahead of last year (earliest start in their 40 year history) but then the weather cooled down. “The sugars came in and everything needed to be picked at once.  We had excellent weather during bloom; the fruit set was great”, said Sauer.  Red Willow fruit had full clusters with more berries which translates to bigger yields across the board. The grapes ripened at lower Brix and pH. “I think there is going to be some real nice fruit out there this year,” says Sauer. Red Willow finished up harvest 10/12/16, slightly earlier than average. Harvest lasted eight weeks, which is longer than usual.

JJ Williams, co-owner Kiona Vineyard, located in the Red Mtn. sub AVA of the Yakima Valley AVA experienced similar results. “We’ve had a slightly larger crop load this year,” said Williams. “The unseasonably hot weather in May created an early fruit set.”  One hundred degree temperatures in May are pretty rare. “That temperature spike really pushed the vines into production early and the late summer temperature plateau allowed for longer hang time and ample sugar and flavor development.”

A quality vintage is great news for the entire Washington Wine industry. The Yakima Valley AVA is often referred to as the backbone of the Washington wine industry with more than 1/3 of state’s vineyard acreage. The region produces 61% of the state’s total wine production.

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