Syrah Climbs to Second Most Widely Planted Wine Grape Variety in the Walla Walla Valley
WALLA WALLA, WA — The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance has completed a full assessment of operating vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley American Viticulture Area (AVA). The assessment was completed in conjunction with Everyvine.com, a website through which the AVA’s vineyards are mapped and analyzed (www.everyvine.com/wine-regions/region/Walla Walla Valley/). Among several noteworthy findings revealed by the inventory was that Syrah overtook Merlot as the second most prevalent wine grape variety in the Walla Walla Valley. The top five varieties were Cabernet Sauvignon (36.6 percent), Syrah (17.3 percent), Merlot (17.1 percent), Cabernet Franc (5.7 percent), and Malbec (4.4 percent). The wine grape inventory was the first full vineyard acreage assessment completed in the past twenty years, a period in which the AVA has experienced significant growth.
Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, says, “the Everyvine.com inventory clearly substantiates what we have known for some time — the vineyard acreage in our Valley has grown extensively over the past two decades. It is nice to finally have an accurate count of acreage for the first time, and the data and maps to assist us in telling our story.”
As of August 2015, there were 2,836 acres of planted vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley AVA, the majority of which are mapped on Everyvine.com. In addition to the total vineyard acreage and growth of Syrah in the Valley, the inventory also somewhat surprisingly revealed that a majority (57 percent) of the vineyard acreage lies on the Washington side of the Walla Walla Valley, with 43 percent on the Oregon side. As Wollmuth says, however, “much of the vineyard growth is taking place on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley near Milton-Freewater. We expect these percentages to change over the next few years as more vineyard acres are planted in the new Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA and in the SeVein Vineyards project at the far sound end of the Valley.”
The Everyvine.com site also provides a breakdown of various growing conditions, showing that the average temperature in the AVA’s vineyards during the growing season is 62.7 degrees Fahrenheit and the average rainfall during the growing season is 7.82 inches. These figures compare to annual figures of 52.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 17.89 inches for the same locations.
The Wine Alliance and its members will use this information in a variety of ways. This assessment will allow the Alliance to monitor the continued growth of the vineyards in the AVA, and to communicate that growth to inquiring media and those in the wine industry. The Wine Alliance will have complete vineyard maps of the Walla Walla Valley AVA and The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA through Everyvine.com, and members will have access to high-resolution maps of the Valley’s vineyards to use for marketing and presentation purposes. In addition, Wine Alliance members will have access to data on their vineyard profile pages on Everyvine.com, which provides up-to-date information on the vineyard’s climate, topography, and soil.
According to Wollmuth, “Our members will now have the tools they need to accurately tell both their personal story, as well as the story of the AVA. Maps of soils, climate and topography will be available for use on web sites and in presentations. We are extremely pleased with the products Everyvine.com provides and look forward to continuing to work closely with the company.”