July 31, 2007
Woodinville's Ste. Michelle Winery has agreed to partner up with Italian Marchese Piero Antinori to buy Stag's Leap Winery and brands. This expansion puts St. Michelle on the wine industry map. The deal is expected to be finalized in September.
Ste. Michelle celebrates their 40 years in wine making this year.
February 8, 2007
Washington state has reached a new record of planted wine grapes-31,000 acres! It was announced recently at the 12th Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers annual meeting. These results are based on two new surveys conducted by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. 120,000 tons of grapes were crushed in 2006.
- Reds have grown faster than white varietals
- Reds increased by 330% since 1993
- Whites have increased by 92% since 1993
- Whites currently increasing faster than reds
- Riesling planting doubled since 2002
- Red down slightly: Cabernet and Merlot
- Red up: Cab Franc 54%, Syrah 35%
- Largest AVA (American Viticultural Area):
- Yakima Valley-9,485 acres
- (Whites more than double reds)
- Columbia Valley-6,693 acres
- Horse Heaven Hills-6,667 acres
- Yakima Valley-9,485 acres
The biggest challenge ahead for Washington grape growers maybe be planting more than wineries can buy. Growers were warned not to plant without contracts. This advice was issued to heed against oversupply problems California and Australia currently face.
Source: WineBusiness.com, from Daily New Links, by Mary-Colleen Tinney
February 8, 2007
Riesling has always done well in Washington thanks to the climate and soil native to the area. Now the first Riesling only winery is breaking ground in West Richland about four miles east of Red Mountain.
The winery will be opening as the popularity of the varietal is on the rise. Riesling was recently identified as one of the fastest growing varietals. Pacific Rim will specialize in a variety of riesling styles from sweet to, my favorite-dry.
Artists rendition of the new Pacific Rim Wine Co.
The owner of Pacific Rim, Randall Grahm, also owns Bonny Doon. Bonny Doon sold a couple of its brands off and is reorganizing and redesigning their manufacturing with a focus on the Washington location.
Maybe the status as the fourth-largest selling white wine in food stores will climb with attention like this paid to wine once known as...dessert.
Source: WineBusiness.com, Daliy News Links by Cyril Penn
January 23, 2007
Another wine boom started in North America in 2006. According to a wine industry report published in the 2007 Wines & Vines Directory/Buyer's Guide 465 new wineries opened in California last year! The boom isn't isolated to the Golden State. Washington and Oregon both increased by 22%. Washington took second place with 65 new wineries and oregon ranked third in growth with 49.
Number New Wineries
Overall, North America added nearly 1,000 new wineries during the last year, an increase of 28%. Though the number of new wineries continues to skyrocket, the wineries themselves are often small, boutique operations; approximately half of all North American wineries have an annual production of 15,000 cases or less, according to Wines & Vines Directory/Buyer's Guide data.
Executive Director (Robin Pollard) of the Washington wine commission shares her views on the future of the states wine industry. The main focus in increasing Washington wine awareness is actully increasing wine tourism. Wine is the only agricultural commodity to attract visitors-wine tourism.
Wine tourism is currently estimate to contribute $20 million attracting two million visitors to Washington wine country annually. Wine tourists stay longer and spend more than other tourists.
A new ad campaign is underway in Florida. The sunshine state is the test ground for the Surf & Turf campaign to demonstrate the connection between the perfect pairing of Washington wines and Florida Gulf seafood. So far, so good.
Sources: Article provided by James Ireland. The Seattle Times-Taste, by Paul Greguit.
Washington state is the second largest producer of wine in the U.S. Of the 30,000 acres of wine grapes in the state only 1% are located west of the Cascades. Nearly all of the over 400 wineries in the state grow their grapes in Eastern Washington.
Southern Oregon University is conducting research on the subject. They are gathering soil samples and studying the many micro-climates. Currently the primary focus is in the coolest spots around Puget Sound area in the broad, flat valley near the mouth of the Skagit river. The theory is that if grapes can grow there they can grow anyplace in the western part of the state.
Puget sound gets about 48 inches of rain per year-six times that of Eastern Washington. Due to the rain it has been believed for decades that it's not even worth trying. Even the grapes at Chateau St. Michelle are strictly for decoration.
The study shows that the Puget Sound area compares favorably to the some of the best growing areas in France and Germany. Their research has shown promise for cool-weather grapes like sauvignon blanc and pinot noir precose even some lesser known varieties such as red agria. Some Western Washington wineries have been planting semillon and siegerebbe and others.
The Puget Sound growers are planting mostly pinot noir and want to become known as the pioneers of west-side grape growing.
Source: Randolph E. Schmid AP Writer Published by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer July 11, 2006.
The National Academy of Sciences published a new study on climate warming and the effects on the premium wine grape growing industry.
Areas that are perfect for growing premium wine grapes could be reduced by 50% to 81% by the end of the century. The report states that increasing weather problems for grapes in areas such as Napa and Sonoma in California - though grape-growing conditions might improve in coastal areas of Washington state.
The biggest problem is an increase in the number of extremely hot days. Wine grapes need a consistent climate. When temperatures top 95 degrees they have difficulty maintaining photosynthesis and the necessary sugars can break down.
All though temperatures will be more conducive to growing there is still an issue with higher humidity levels. High humidity is associated with fungus outbreaks and other potential challenges. These issues could make premium wine grape growing very expensive.
Some favorable regions may remain over the next century may be coastal California, Oregon, Washington and New England.
Climate changes that effect wine grape growing aren't new to the world. A thousand years ago Viking explorers arrived on the coasts of eastern Canada and New England they named the region Vinland, a designation that has puzzled some historians since grapes are uncommon there now. The weather was warmer then.
In medieval times there were vineyards in England that were later killed by a colder period known as the Little Ice Age. Wine grapes are being grown in England again.
Source: Gene Johnson AP Writer Published in the Tri-City Herald October 9th, 2006.
The Union-Bulletin recently reported that Dusted Valley Vintners purchased 11 additional acres just over the border in Walla Walla. The vineyard is formerly the BradenView Vineyard which currently grows cab and merlot varietals. Plans for additional varieties will include malbec, petit verdot and cabernet franc. The new plot is located very near the Walla Walla Regional Airport at Boeing Ave and A St. With the expansion the vineyard will reportedly take a new name, the Sconni Block Vineyard.
The plan is for this new area to become a certified organic vineyard. They are the first small premium label in Washington to go 100% screw cap closure.
Dusted Valley will definetly be on my list to visit with three of my favorites including a Cabernet, a Super Tuscan and five (!) Syrahs. Yum
Trivial factoid-The DVV wine club is named, the "Stained Tooth Society (STS)" .
Sources: Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, www.dustedvalley.com, www.bradenview.com, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and www.wallawallawine.com.