Saturday, November 03, 2012

Near Perfect! Walla Walla Valley 2012 Vintage

Yesterday, Duane Wollmuth, Executive Director of the Walla Walla Wine Alliance reported that the 2012 growing conditions for the Walla Walla Valley will be a vintage to be remembered.  

According to Wollmuth, “... nearly every winemaker I have talked to has said the temperatures and extended lack of rainfall have created near perfect conditions for producing wine grapes.  We had three months without rain and plenty of warm temperatures.  These late spring and summertime conditions, along with a normal cool down in September and October has produced small berry size, well ripened fruit, and excellent acidity.”

Seven Hills Vineyard - photo from L'Ecole No 41 - Walla Walla AVA
Growing Degree Days (GDD), a measure of average daily temperatures over 50 degrees Fahrenheit, were at 2,805 in the Walla Walla Valley as of October 21.  Normal GDDs in the valley through October 31 are usually 2,844.  The 2012 GDDs figure is up several hundred from those in 2010 and 2011.

It was reported that not only the 2012 growing conditions produced exceptional quality of grapes, but the quantities were up as well.  A survey concluded that the local wineries produced as much as two to three times more than they had in 2011. In fact, early estimates put the Washington State grape harvest up 30% from 2011’s smaller crop.   

This comes at an excellent time for Washington wineries as they face rapidly increasing global demand for their wines. There have also been rumblings of a world-wide wine shortage and also a local shortage due to the winter damage the Walla Walla Valley suffered in vintages 2o1o and 2o11. 

“This will create a rare opportunity for our wineries to meet more of the ever increasing demand for the high quality wines our valley has become known for.  Of course, we all know that the 2012 vintage wines are still dependent upon what our winemakers in the valley do with these great grapes," Wollmuth said.

Wollmuth concluded that he was confident, given the valley's record for producing exceptional wines, the local winemakers will make the most of the high quality grapes grown throughout Washington State this year.

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