A combination of new plantings coming on stream and favourable conditions during the ripening period resulted in a generous crop for Washington State. Quality is reported to be good, especially for red wines.
‘In terms of fruit character, everything ripened very well this year,’ said Gary Werner of the Washington Wine Commission.
‘Cluster sizes seemed normal, though the colour of the reds is especially deep. Many producers expect great things from the Cabernets.’
A cool spring made for a slow start to the growing season in Washington State. From May onwards warm and sunny weather encouraged much faster vine development and favourable weather continued through to the end of July. High daytime temperatures over 35˚C throughout August led to concern over tank capacity and everything having to be picked at once, but lower September temperatures relieved the pressure. The harvest took place at a rapid pace and fortunately most grapes had been picked before frost hit in mid-October.
According to the USA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service the crop weighed in at 165,000 tons, 14% up on 2008. This is a record high for Washington State, the second largest wine-producing state after California.
Of the four top varieties – Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – Chardonnay shows the largest increase, up 24% on 2008. Riesling shows a similar increase and remains the most widely planted white grape. White varieties account for 55% of production in 2009.
Malbec, which has only been recorded as a separate grape since 2007, contributed 1,000 tons to the crop. The newcomer also achieved the highest price per ton of the major varieties (US$1,473) reflecting its popularity among winemakers.