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Viticulture,Walla Walla,Washington,Wine,Winemaking

2012 Vintage – A Near Perfect Growing Season for Walla Walla Valley Winemakers

♫♪ “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…♪♪♫” – Joni Mitchell

Yeah… When I was in Walla Walla, I was busy exploring, learning, and enjoying being away from my computer, but I wasn’t thinking about falling in love. Then, I just got an Email from Executive Director Duane Wollmuth of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, and it hit me… What a great place Walla Walla is. Maybe that’s why someone felt the need to name it twice? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I love Walla Walla.

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a non-profit wine industry membership organization, whose primary mission is the marketing of the Walla Walla Valley’s AVA. The Wine Alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media, and trade who are interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry. More information about the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance can be found at www.wallawallawine.com.

I love cooperatives. People who work together for the good of a common goal are pretty evolved. There’s a lot to be said for interdependence… Operating PS I Love You through the years has taught me a lot about collective marketing and participation for a common good.

I really enjoyed having Duane search me out to tell me about their harvest season. What I learned makes me want to share this info with you all. If you’ve ever been to Walla Walla, you’ll be interested. If you’ve only been there by having their wine, that’s a good thing, too.

So, another stellar vintage…. Good on them!

[Q]  So, what’s the consensus among Walla Walla Valley winemakers, Duane?

[DUANE] This will be a vintage to remember. Nearly every winemaker I’ve talked to has said the temperatures and extended lack of rainfall have created nearly perfect conditions for producing wine grapes. We had three months without rain and plenty of warm temperatures. These late spring and summer time conditions, along with a normal cool down in September and October has produced small berry size, well ripened fruit, and excellent acidity.

[Q]  My husband and I visited Walla Walla in late August with the Oak Knoll Boys, and the weather was gorgeous then. So, you’re saying that continued through the rest of the season?

[DUANE]  Yes… 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.

[Q] So, if it was all really perfect, does that mean that you you’re going to have both quantity and quality?

[DUANE]  Exactly… Not only did the year’s growing conditions produce exceptional grape quality, but quantities were up as well. A survey of Walla Walla Vintners found that wineries processed 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. According to Wollmuth, “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. I am confident, however, that given their track record for producing great wines, our winemakers will make the most of the high quality grapes grown throughout Washington this year.”

 Okay… I’m now waiting for those wines. Perhaps being there in person when they’re released is what  needs to happen in my world. How about you?

 

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4 Responses to “2012 Vintage – A Near Perfect Growing Season for Walla Walla Valley Winemakers”

  1. Bob Silver says:

    Just back from Fall Release in Walla Walla and you’re right – people are very excited about the 2012 harvest. Incredible growing season in the Valley – well, in nearly all of Washington, for that matter, so yields are up and winemakers couldn’t stop talking about the quality of the fruit.

    Fall Release is a magical time in Walla Walla. The weather was perfect – 65-70 – and the tasting rooms are jumpin’ without being overly crowded. And the wines are sublime. We all have our favorites, but with more than 100 wineries in the valley, it’s an incredible time to explore and experience Washington wine. Look forward to seeing you there next year.

  2. Kevin Pogue says:

    Have been analyzing my vineyard temperature data for the Walla Walla Valley now that the growing season is over (ended on Oct. 31) – GDD values are ranging from 2800 to 3300 depending on location. Except for the Oct 3-5 frost which nipped a few folks with vineyards below 800 ft., it was a nearly perfect growing season. I picked a red tomato yesterday (Nov. 4) but snow is expected by the weekend, so I guess that’s the end of that….

  3. Jo Diaz says:

    I’ve still got a ton to pick, frost being far off, as far as i know for Sonoma County… Love this Mediterranean climate, but it may (global-warming) bite me in the butt one day. Thanks for weighing in, Kevin.

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