Walla Walla Valley winemakers are calling the 2015 wine grape harvest the earliest on record. According to a post-harvest survey sent to Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance member wineries, the earliest first day of harvest was and the latest last day of harvest was October 30. Few wineries said they processed grapes past October 20.
“Wineries are normally harvesting grapes well into October and November,” said Duane Wollmuth, Executive Director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, “but even with the early harvest, Walla Walla Valley winemakers are very pleased with the quality of the 2015 grapes.”
Nearly all survey respondents (96-percent) reported the overall quality of the grapes processed by their winery from the Walla Walla Valley wine region to be either Above Average or Exceptional. Of the numerous wine grape varieties harvested from the Walla Walla Valley, it was the big three – Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot – that winemakers felt did the best in 2015.
One survey respondent described the grapes as “smaller berries with concentrated flavors,” and another said the wines have “good color and flavor.”
The last couple of years have been record-breaking in terms of grape tonnage, but this year 40-percent of survey respondents reported that total tonnage per acre harvested was down.
“We had an unusually hard freeze last November and a very hot summer, which had some effect on the crop,” Wollmuth said. “Still, we’re thrilled with the overall outcome this year – and we can’t wait to taste the 2015 wines.”