2015. What a year to remember (for the weather that is). I think I posted way back in January that the weather predictions were showing a strong El Nino year and it was going to be hot and dry and boy was it ever! We started off with one of the lowest snow packs, if not the lowest, since we’ve been keeping track of that stuff here in WA state. In the lowlands it was warm and dry starting in December of 2014. It carried on all the way through September. Budbreak was almost a month earlier than I’ve normally seen and flowering was in the middle of June. Everything else came early, except harvest.
You would think with all that heat, we’d have harvested at least a few weeks early but as can happen here in the Puget Sound, it started to rain. The rain started in August and temperature started to moderate. Grape ripening is not a linear thing. Given a set amount of heat, you will not get grapes to ripen that much earlier. What happened is that we had a fair amount of (much needed) rain in August and then again in September. My feeling that the vines were so stressed from dry weather that it actually delayed the ripening of the grapes. Either way, we still harvested about a ton of grapes in the middle of September, enough for two barrels of wine. The Chardonnay had the same problem it’s had in other years in that it flowered during a rainy stretch and there was almost no Chardonnay to speak of. Hence, I will be ripping it out for the most part. The good news is that I am going to put in a few rows of Auxerrois which always seems to do well in our climate.
El Nino will seem to rule for a few more months before we moderate back to a more normal weather pattern. I just hope it holds out one more year so I can get a few more barrels of hot weather wine!
Look for a release of the 2014 Chardonnay next spring. Get some while you can there are only about 10 cases! We will also be selling some 2012 Pinot Noir and also a few bottles left of the 2010 and 2011 from the Yakima valley that need to move.
Also, I hope to run a grape growing class in February or March 2016. This will be my 8th year running it so look for an email soon…