Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Washington reports high quality grape harvest

Published:  05 May, 2021

Washington State has revealed a slight decrease in 2020 grape production compared to 2019, but quality is high and farmers have received an average increase of $180 per ton.

The Washington State Wine Commission’s annual Grape Production Report, compiled with information provided by all Washington State wineries, showed that 178,500 tons of wine grapes were harvested in 2020, an 11% decrease compared to 2019. 

Farmers across the US state reported smaller berry size and extended hang time in 2020, which is traditionally a recipe for high quality wines, it said. 

Despite the smaller harvest it revealed that Cabernet Sauvignon again rose to the top at 52,000 tons, or 29% of the total. Chardonnay was second at 28,100 tons, or 16% of the total. Riesling, Merlot and Syrah rounded out the top five, which altogether equated to more than 80% of the crop. 

The report said that for four years running, red varieties have accounted for nearly 60% of the total production. 

Every published variety saw a decrease in production with the exception of Riesling, which saw a slight increase compared to 2019. 

Farmers received an average of $1,495 per ton, which was an increase of $180 over the previous year. Cabernet Franc received the highest average price per ton at $2,167.

The smaller harvest was attributed to a range of factors from weather to smoke events.  

“The first factor is Mother Nature. We had a series of freeze events in October 2019, which many farmers say led to smaller canopies and yields in 2020," said Steve Warner, president of the Washington State Wine Commission.

"Some regions experienced wind and rain at bloom time, which contributed to a smaller cluster size. We then had several smoke events during harvest, which we are finding to have had limited negative impact to the grapes on a widespread scale, but did impact picking decisions. All of this paired with varied levels of business concerns related to Covid-19 added up to a smaller crop.” 

Warner added that early feedback from winemakers was that these 2020 wines were showing “excellent balance and structure". 

In October 2020, Candy Mountain was confirmed as Washington State’s 16th American Viticultural Area (AVA) by the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The ruling has made the region the smallest AVA in the state, with just 815 acres of well-drained soils on south-facing slopes.