Northwest Wine Crush: Hot Summer Makes For Strong Juice

Sep 11, 2014

As the Northwest is bathed in autumn’s golden light, wineries across the region are harvesting, crushing grapes and making wine full bore. This year’s fruit looks petite and powerful.

Jim Holmes, owner of the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain in southeast Washington, is one of the godfathers of the state’s wine industry. He said that this year's grapes don't show signs of disease, mold or bird damage. 

Maria Natividad is one of the fastest pickers here in the '94 sarah at Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain outside of Benton City, Washington.
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

"They’re like an artist drew them on the vine. It’s that kind of year," he said. "Now if they’ll make good wine, well find out when the wine’s made.”

Holmes said this was a very hot year. Much hotter, even, than 1998.

“Three years ago we worried that the grapes would not get ripe, it was so cold,” Holmes said. “This is a very hot year. The issue was would it get too hot? Would the grapes sunburn? Would they raisin up? Could we live with that kind of heat? And we did.”

That hot weather means the grapes are smaller this year. And that means there will be a bigger skin-to-juice ratio when pressing out wine. It means winemakers will have to make sure a glass of 2014 isn't too dry, but the payoff could be huge in color.

And increasing recognition from the world-wide industry.