2011 Harvest Review

December, 2011 7 at 4:44pm

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Every year in this country there is a group of people that have been engaged in a special form of legalized gambling. Each of us support their masochistic addiction to odds-playing every time we go to the grocery store, and are more than happy to do so. These ignorers of Kenny Rodgers’ sage advice are, of course, our beloved farmers. Every year brings its own unique challenges in our industry, and let me assure you, this year was no exception.

Here in Eastern Washington we had a season that was generally cooler than is typical for the area, and ran much later than normal. Most wineries were receiving fruit at least 2 weeks later than normal. There were some producers who lost significant amounts of their crop, although the producers that we work with came out in pretty decent shape. Production was lower than normal across the board, but it seems like most came out of the season okay.

I have heard a lot of people ask about what this kind of season means to the quality of the wines in the 2011 vintage. As with any vintage, there can be a lot of variation from one grower and winery to another. We have been very happy with the fruit that we received this year. The cooler season that we experienced will likely produce wines that are generally very balanced and lower in alcohol than you might see in a warmer vintage, especially for producers who have recently been making higher alcohol wines. A cooler vintage leads to lower sugar levels, which translates into lower alcohol. We prefer to make wines that are lower in alcohol as a general rule, so we were actually extremely happy with where the sugar levels came in on our fruit. Despite all of the stress that this season gave growers and winemakers, there will be some fantastic wine made in the 2011 vintage.

One of the things that makes wine such a special and fun product is the variation that you will see from one year to the next. A 2011 wine will be much different than a wine produced in 2008 or 2005. Every year presents its own challenge to producers, but it also gives the consumer something unique. As the process of fermentation and barreling moves forward, we look forward to seeing how the 2011 wines develop.

As a winery we are certainly involved in the yearly gambling that goes into anything related to agriculture, but we are so thankful for the many growers around the state who have the most skin in the game. Year after year they roll the dice and invest the time and money into producing some of the best wine grapes in the world, and without them we wouldn’t be able to craft the wines that we do. So as we continue into the winter months, we raise a glass to all the gamblers in the industry.