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The 2011 Harvest--Weinbau Vineyard

The weather in the Columbia Valley started with a cool, wet spring. Recent weather has been better for the vineyards, with projected harvest about 10-14 days behind last year--a normal harvest time.”

The quote above was from our August 2010 harvest report. Strangely, it’s also true for this year. This year is characterized by impacts from last November’s freeze, which damaged many vines (and even whole vineyards) as well as a cool, moist spring and summer. Some vineyards had powdery mildew problems which could also affect next year’s crop. However, our sources were able to recognize the potential problems and apply appropriate viticultural practices for this challenging vintage.

We visited our vineyard sources on August 18-19. Veraision has not started yet in most of the rows, so it’s too early to tell when harvest will occur. Some fruit is about 3 weeks behind, logically to be harvested three weeks or more later. For more photos, visit our Flickr page.

We will focus on one or two vineyards per blog post. Here is our first report:

Weinbau Vineyard, Wahluke Slope: Starting in the north, we arrived at Weinbau Vineyard east of Mattawa. Weinbau is owned by Sagemoor Farms and is located in the Wahluke Slope AVA (American Viticultural Area).

Established in 2006, the Wahluke Slope AVA is naturally bounded by the Columbia River to the west and south, by the Saddle Mountains on the north, and on the east by the Hanford Reach National Monument. The 81,000 acre region features approximately 5,652 acres of vineyards: nearly 15 percent of the total wine grape acreage in the state. It is home to more than 20 vineyards. Wahluke Slope has one of the driest, warmest climates in the state, allowing nearly complete control of vine vigor and ripening through irrigation.

This is our first year sourcing Mourvedre from Weinbau. The 5.5 acres of vines in block 62 were planted in 2009, making this the youngest fruit we are using this year. This year’s crop will be small, probably less than one ton per acre.