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Northwest Winemakers Ready For 'Intense' Vintage

Anna King, Northwest News Network. Vineyard manager Dick Boushey.

Wine grapes throughout the Northwest are ripening faster this year because of the hot dry summer. Vineyard managers and winemakers are preparing for a breakneck harvest over the next few weeks -- if it stays warm.

This year Eastern Washington had record-setting heat in July, while Oregon had consistently warm weather. Growers throughout the Northwest are hoping for cooler temperatures so the grapes don’t race to ripeness.

The prediction is for more wine, deeper colors and higher alcohol levels.

“For some reason the word 'intense' comes to mind," says Dick Boushey, who manages vineyards for some of the top wineries in Washington. "It’s going to be for Washington more like 2003 and 2005 -- which are always big, fun, flashy years.”

In the Willamette Valley, growers say some vineyards could see a bit less fruit than average. But, they say the quality of the grapes, and the lack of rot or disease look excellent.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.