Wine grapes throughout the Northwest are ripening faster this year because of the hot dry summer. Vineyard managers and winemakers are preparing for a breakneck harvest over the next few weeks—that is, if it stays warm.
This year, eastern Washington had record-setting heat in July, while Oregon had consistently warm weather. Growers throughout the Northwest are hoping for cooler temperatures so the grapes don’t race to ripeness.
The prediction is for more wine, deeper colors and higher alcohol levels.
“I don’t know, for some reason, the word ‘intense’ comes to mind,” said Dick Boushey, who manages vineyards for some of the top wineries in Washington. “It’s going to be for Washington more like 2003 and 2005. Which are always big, fun, flashy years.”
In the Willamette Valley, growers say some vineyards could see a bit less fruit than average. But the quality of the grapes, and the lack of rot or disease look excellent, they say.