Grape growers and winemakers across the Columbia Gorge AVA report the cool summer weather that has continued into the fall has set back ripening by about two weeks.
While some Gorge wineries have begun to harvest Merlot, Malbec, Rousanne,Grenache and Syrah from contract vineyards in the Horse Heaven and Red Mountain AVA's, there are no reports of harvesting in any local vineyards.
Many vineyards on the western edge of the AVA have thinned their crops drastically to compensate for the shorter growing season. Growers report the summer's temperatures were the coolest in 20 years, with winemaker Rich Cushman remarking, "This is the first harvest in 29 years I have not harvested any grapes in September."
A brief warm spell throughout last week resulted in rapidly rising sugar levels, and while temperatures are cool, the weather remains sunny and clear. Sentiment shared by all winemakers is although the harvest is late, cool vintages often turn out wines of incredible balance and brightness, with gentler alcohol and increased acid structure.
Growers report that harvesting will begin on most white varieties within ten days, with red varieties anticipated in two weeks.