Four decades after the birth of the state’s modern wine industry, the outlook from Central Washington’s vineyards is good, the Yakima News Tribune reports.
Last season’s record crop of winegrapes is expected to be surpassed by nearly 12 percent. But instead of a surplus that could drive down prices, demand continues to grow as the wine industry expands, according to Paul Champoux, who grows 180 acres of grapes south of Prosser.
All that bodes well for the state’s $3 billion wine industry, which includes growers, winemakers and a range of businesses that benefit from wine tourism.
A cold snap killed about half the cherry crop this spring and delayed the grape harvest, but otherwise hasn’t hurt it.
At Airport Ranches near Sunnyside, harvest got under way about two weeks later than usual.
“We are just getting off to a good start,” said owner Mike Miller, who also owns Airfield Estates, a Prosser winery.
Depending on the area, harvest was delayed from a few days to about two weeks, said Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. The winegrape harvest typically begins in mid-September and ends in early November.
As growers continue to harvest new plantings, this year’s crop is expected to beat the record 127,020 tons harvested a year ago.
The state’s crop should be about 142,056 tons, according to a pre-harvest estimate from the association. Some of this year’s crop will be reduced by thinning, but a record yield is still expected.