Another harvest is in the books, and Walla Walla Valley winemakers are excited about the 2013 vintage. According to a recent survey sent to Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance members, nearly ninety percent said the overall quality of the 2013 vintage was above average or exceptional, and almost one in three reported it to be exceptional. Roughly one-half of the respondents also reported that grape tonnage per acre harvested was above average.
The 2013 harvest was somewhat longer than originally expected. The majority of survey respondents started picking grapes in early-to- mid-September and harvest continued on in to early November after a September cool-down slowed the ripening process dramatically. When asked what factors or characteristics set the 2013 vintage apart, many survey respondents referenced the warm summer and mild fall.
“(2013 was a) nice warm year that tailed off into a cool fall,” one survey respondent said. “It should make ripe but very balanced wines.”
“…a very cool September contributed to extended hang time which allowed for maximum flavor development in our reds,” another respondent said. “Winemakers' patience was rewarded by allowing this extended hang-time to develop a great vintage.”
About half of the survey respondents felt that certain grapes did better than the others in 2013, but answers varied from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and a number of other varietals.
“We have a vast variety of terrain and elevation in the Walla Walla AVA,” explained Duane Wollmuth, Executive Director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, “but all over the valley – winemakers were thrilled with the quality of the grapes. We’re lucky to be in one of the best winegrowing regions in the world, and we’re anticipating great wines from the 2013 vintage.”