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Friday, July 10, 2015

News from Washington State

Washington may be 700-plus miles north of Sonoma County, but the recent news from America's second biggest wine-producing state is interesting. Washington's wine production has doubled in the last decade. California is still 89% of the market, Washington is a distant second at 4%.

Where grapes are grown

 Most people think of Seattle and the Pacific Coast when they think of Washington state -- a region with a cool, damp climate not exactly perfect for wine grapes. But the area east of the Cascades is actually sunny and dry. The growing season is short compared to California, but because of the latitude the summer days are longer.

Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon is now the top grape planted in the state having recently passed Chardonnay, Riesling and Merlot. These grapes all do well here, but Cab usually brings in higher prices -- this is probably why we're seeing more of it planted. The good news is you can still find lots of good Washington Cabernets for under $30.

Drought

The California drought has been all over the news for many months as almost three-fourths of the state is in an extreme drought. In Oregon one-third of the state is in an extreme drought with the rest in a moderate drought.

Washington had a good amount of precipitation last winter, but warmer than average temperatures meant low snow-pack, and the warmer temperatures are continuing for summer. All of Washington is now in a moderate drought. Wine grapes generally do well in drought conditions compared to the other fruits and grains grown there. Washington expects to see heavy losses in other crops this year, but not in wine grapes.