“I think it's fair to say that Washington State’s 2021 wine grape growing season kept our grape growers and winemakers on the edge of their seats.
Late spring frosts threatened to damage fragile new growth, but in the end we made it through nearly unscathed. Even in areas that experienced temperatures near 20 degrees fahrenheit, the instance of damage was very low.
The Months of June and July brought with them the longest stretch of warm weather Washington State has ever experienced. Temperatures on several days crested 110 degrees fahrenheit and on one occasion broke 115! Luckily our growers prepared well for the heat by delaying routine leaf removal and preemptively increasing the use of drip irrigation in the first weeks of June. Considering that we had never experienced a stretch of sustained heat like this before, let alone the record breaking day time high temps, we made it through July with very little trouble.
The month of August continued the trend of warm weather and the result was sugar accumulation in the grapes outpacing the ripeness of the grape skins. The pace of ripeness was also being accelerated by a historically low crop size.
I’m happy to report that September turned out to be the perfect antidote to the warm summer months leading up to it. The weather cooled. We enjoyed a handful of short rain events. The sugar concentration in the grapes began to stall and actually gave us lower readings than the month prior (yes this happens!). The vines sensed the changing of the season and were able to support the development of flavors in the grape berries.
We harvested most of our fruit during the final two weeks of September in near ideal conditions. The fruit displayed intense fruit flavors and plenty of concentration. And despite the challenges of the season, the condition of the grapes was the best of recent memory. In fact the (usually exhausting) grape sorting process took little effort in 2021.
I guess it goes to show that each harvest season in Washington State is unique and you never know what you’ll end up with until it’s over!”
~ Louis Skinner, Winemaker