Washington Vintage Report 2019

We had a freeze event this morning in the Walla Walla Valley this morning that made me think that maybe I should share that info, and keep a running thread of the weather for the season. 

It hit 30 degrees at sun-up on the north side of the valley, with various pockets getting close throughout the area. Everyone has their fans running, trying to pull cold air off of the vines. For the most part, it looks like just a scare, but there are a couple of spots up Lower Waitsburg Road and  Mill Creek area that will need some inspection.

The rest of the state looks to have avoided any damage today, as the low for any of the other AVAs was around 35.

At this point, we've seen a hearty budbreak in most areas, save small amounts of stubborn Cabernet Sauvignon that's still thinking about pushing. Bud break was a few days later than last year (3-4 days from my observations, I'll check in with some growers to see if that's consistent across the board) after record breaking snow in February and early March. Total precipitation for the year is above average across the board, but is more pronounced in the areas just outside of the desert (Walla Walla, Columbia Gorge, Lake Chelan). NOAA is predicting a warmer than average, dry summer for us up here, but we will see. 

  • Thanks for sharing this, Jeremy! 

  • As we approach flowering, we're starting to see a little bit of cold damage from the winter in Walla Walla. I'm talking 5% in low lying areas, nothing major. It's hard to tell exactly where the damage came from, but there were some cold days right before budbreak, and about 2 really cold days all winter. The damage is all on the primary buds, not the canes, which points towards possible frost. The rest of Washington seems to have escaped any of this. 

    That said, budbreak was spectacular. There has been a lot of rapid growth, and the amount of suckers that need to be thinned already is mindblowing. 

    Precipitation and temperature are both in the the "normal" ranges, with the exception of the Yakima Valley being a little ahead on yearly precipitation (doesn't take much at all since that is technically a desert). I haven't seen anyone east of Prosser with irrigation on yet. We did have a rain event yesterday in the Walla Walla Valley that was a little worrisome. Some vineyards reported hail. Luckily, any damage will be easily managed because nearly everyone is in the process of thinning and have some extra shoots in case of flowers being knocked off or shoots broken. 

    Overall, it looks like Washington is right where the vineyards should be at the moment. A long way to go until fall.