It’s the middle of October in Washington, which can only mean one it’s rainy and cold in Eastern Washington…wait, WHAT?! That’s right, it’s been an interesting harvest this year. Washington wine insider Paul Gregutt (The Seattle Times Wine Advisor Columnist and Wine Enthusiast Contributing Editor) explains it best in a recent blog post on paulgregutt.com (aptly called “Oh Mighty Grape Fairy, Shine Your Light on our Vines!”):
“A lot of praying is going on in wine country these days (along with nail biting and floor pacing and a fair amount of expletives not being deleted). I’m considering a revision of the part of my book that boasts about Washington’s harvests, guaranteed to be sunny and rain free. Not this one. Washington suffers from weather tribulations, notably freezes, on a fairly regular basis. In just the past few years I’ve seen a variety of ill-timed weather, including a deep freeze early in 2004 that wiped out much of that year’s crop; a Halloween freeze in 2006 that dropped temperatures into the low teens; an early October freeze a couple of years ago and a Thanksgiving freeze last year, both of which took their toll on certain locations. But I have never seen a fall so wet, so cool and so cloudy as this one.”
We’ve been following the harvest/crush reports on Twitter, Facebook and various blogs (try searching your favorite winery on Facebook or Twitter and you will see how unpredictable Harvest 2011 has been). Another great source for all things harvest is Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report, which does an almost weekly update (plus his handy chart, sorted by AVA, of what fruit come in for each winery).
Some of our favorite Harvest updates so far (winemakers sure are funny!):
John Maloney, Winemaker Milbrandt Vineyards (via Twitter, @maloneywine – 10/10/2011)
“So far this vintage can be early summed up – WTF? (Where’s the fruit? – trying to keep clean)”
Syncline Wine Cellars (via Facebook – 10/11/2011)
“Picked the mourvedre from the vineyard formerly known as Grand Reve today. No stolen grapes this year!”
Forgeron Cellars (via Facebook – 10/17/2011)
“Tentative Harvest Schedule for this week: Boushey Merlot (today); Boushey Marsanne (Tuesday); Boushey Syrah (Wednesday); Crawford Chardonnay, Dionysus Cab Sauv and Dionysus Petit Verdot (Thursday); and Alder Ridge Zin (Thursday or Friday). In preparation for Halloween, we’ll all be zombies by the end of the week with this schedule!”
L’Ecole Winery (via Facebook – 10/17/2011)
“Meet your 2011 Columbia Valley Cab Sauv….look for it in your glass in a few years.” (see photo at right)
Fielding Hills Winery (via Facebook – 10/18/2011)
“Merlot Grapes arrived last night…Crush has begun…Let the games begin!”
Want to know more information about this year’s harvest? Tune in next Wednesday, October 26, when we welcome Sean Sullivan to the Table Talk radio show. We’ll be talking about harvest, predictions for the 2011 vintages wines and all things Washington wines!
What Were Drinking This Week (current releases from some of our favorite Harvest updaters):
L’Ecole 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon – $29
A structured Cabernet from Columbia valley, this wine shows depth with cherry, blackberry and other dark stone fruit flavors and aromas. Spice and chocolate and a touch of earth finish off the palate.
Forgeron 2009 Chardonnay – $25
Sourced from multiple vineyards (and AVAs) comes a rich and refreshing Chardonnay. 98% Chardonnay with a hint of Orange Muscat, this wine has melon and tropical flavors with balanced mineral acidity.
Fielding Hills 2009 Merlot – $36
A new release from the Wenatchee winery, it’s bottled unfined and unfiltered, which creates outstanding color and flavor. Very fruit-forward, it’s the perfect compliment to a warm meal on a blustery fall night.