The 2012 wine-grape growing season is, for all intents and purposes, complete after near-ideal growing conditions for the vintage. We’re talking small berry size (similar to a wine blogger’s gonads) but in this case, that’s a good thing as cabernets will show like a cabernet in the glass instead of a pinot noir.
Oddly, there were a few AVAs that still experienced a cooler-than-average growing year, in the same mode that Reagan Dunn “overspent” his office budget. The variation was minimal for these AVAs: Red Mountain, Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills, Yakima Valley (Prosser), and Puget Sound.
We have crowned a new “King Heat” in the Columbia Gorge AVA (eastern side), sizzling in at 3037 GDD, narrowly edging perennial scorcher Red Mountain by a mere 29 GDD.
The old geezers are calling this a great vintage year, on par with 2006. Notice, they didn’t say 2005 or 2007, which are the consensus top two vintages for the new millenium, which is essentially “for all-time.” But, don’t get it wrong, 2006 was a fabulous year and still very underappreciated by wine snogs.
So, here’s the early line on the 2012s.
Strengths: reds. whites. pinks. Red Mountain returns to its classic form, instead of tasting like a Rattlesnake Hills wine. Cabernet franc should be the most outstanding, based on early returns.
Weaknesses: cabernet from Naches Heights, anything from Puget Sound (again), whites, and feminine syrahs. For those who subscribe to the “cooler weather brings out the unique personalities of the vineyard” diatribe, this isn’t the year for you unless you can find it from the two previously mentioned AVAs.
Note to the wine geeks: Ancient Lakes AVA will be recognized on November 19, 2012 as the 13th Washington AVA, so as of right now, it is NOT a federally-recognized Washington AVA, but will be included in next year’s statistics.
AVA (station) AGDD50(long term avg.) (2012) (2011) 2012 rain
Red Mountain (Benton City) 3110 3008 2715 6.7 in.
Wahluke Slope (Mattawa) 3009 2982 2680 3.3
Horse Heaven Hills (Paterson) 2982 2989 2662 6.7
Columbia Gorge (Mary Hill) 2875 3037 2674 5.9
Rattlesnake Hills (Outlook) 2827 2990 2545 4.6
Walla Walla Valley (W.W.) 2769 2840 2562 17.4
Lake Chelan (Chelan South) 2682 2893 2457 8.7
Yakima Valley (IAREC) 2628 2643 2312 7.0
Snipes Mountain 2493 2604 2255 4.5
Naches Heights 2158 2385 2041 6.8
Puget Sound (Mt. Vernon) 1562 1426 1393 25.6
–info from WSU V&E (posted Nov. 5, 2012)