The 2011 wine-grape growing season is officially over with after another late-surge of warmth to salvage an otherwise “cool” vintage year.
2011 started off a couple weeks late and lagged even last year’s cool run through the summer until the first (and really only) heatwave struck in September to briefly catch up to 2010’s numbers before falling back a couple lengths to the finish line. Although the numbers are lower than last year, the late arrival (and prolonged stay) of much needed daytime temps in the 90s allowed the grapes to physiologically ripen. I sampled some freshly picked cabernet and syrah and can assuredly tell you readers that this vintage will deliver wines of expected depth and character as well as reward those who choose to cellar for later enjoyment, and without the massive alcohol levels (expect more sub-14s on the shelves).
Deviations from last year include Walla Walla Valley’s surprising 200+ degree gain and Snipes Mountain’s almost 300 degree loss in this drier year. The exception was, of course, the Puget Sound area which had another lethal combination of lack of sun and too much rain.
AVA (station) AGDD50(long term avg.) (2011) (2010) 2011 rain
Red Mountain (Benton City) 3189 2715 2753 3.7 in.
Wahluke Slope (Mattawa) 3057 2680 2709 3.3
Horse Heaven Hills (Paterson) 3034 2662 2758 5.4
Columbia Gorge (Mary Hill) 2973 2674 2702 8.4
Rattlesnake Hills (Outlook) 2891 2545 2601 4.5
Walla Walla Valley (W.W.) 2844 2562 2325 14.5
Lake Chelan (Chelan South) 2798 2457 2547 8.9
Yakima Valley (IAREC) 2675 2312 2325 4.4
Snipes Mountain 2535 2255 2535 3.1
Puget Sound (Mt. Vernon) 1615 1393 1407 24.7
–info from WSU V&E (posted Nov. 1, 2011)