Sunday, November 1, 2009

Harvest 2009 in the Rattlesnake Hills

Harvest 2009 in the Rattlesnake Hills

Those people who opposed the establishment of the Rattlesnake Hills AVA - including some people with PhDs who should know better - said that the proposed AVA was the same as Prosser Flats -aka the Yakima Valley. As you can see by the chart below, the Rattlesnake Hills AVA was warmer in 2009 than Red Mountain. As usual, it was much warmer than Prosser Flats (Yakima Valley).

Date

Washington

AVA

AgWeatherNet Station

Cumulative GDD (°F)

since April 1

Cumulative Precipitation (in)

since Jan 1

Oct 25

Red Mountain

Benton City

3010

3.29

Oct 25

Wahluke Slope

Mattawa

3091

5.89

Oct 25

Horse Heaven Hills

Paterson

3166

4.31

Oct 25

Rattlesnake Hills

Outlook

3068

4.04

Oct 25

Walla Walla Valley

Walla Walla

2843

13.27

Oct 25

Yakima Valley

WSU-Prosser

2658

3.97

Oct 25

Puget Sound

WSU-Mt Vernon

1633

18.15

Oct 25

Columbia Gorge

Maryhill

3253

8.09

Oct 25

Lake Chelan

Chelan South

3048

1.14

Oct 25

Snipes Mountain

Port of Sunnyside

2882

3.43

Last Updated: October 26, 2009 3:04 PM

We started out the year with a very cool month of May. Because of that, we at the Bonair Winery Estate Vineyards (Ch√Ęteau Puryear Vineyard and Morrison Vineyard) dropped a lot of fruit early, thinking that this might be a repeat of 2008, an unusually cool year in Eastern Washington. The resulting light crop matured early with extreme quality. Everything we picked came off at about 26 brix. Flavors were outstanding because berry size was small. Due to the low rainfall this year, <5 inches, bunch rot in susceptible varieties like Riesling was non-existent.

My only complaint about this year with over 3000 degree days is that our fruit was more like Red Mountain than the characteristic Rattlesnake Hills. Usually Red Mountain gets sugar before ripeness, so 26 brix is a normal picking point. In the Rattlesnake Hills, we are usually ripe i.e. beyond vegetative flavors, at 24 brix, resulting in less alcoholic wines. Red Mountain is known for big powerful tannic reds and the Rattlesnake Hills produces more elegant classical, food-friendly reds. The Yakima Valley is known for vegetative reds from Bordeaux varieties. Syrah and Pinot Noir are more suited to this cool climate.

Unfortunately, all this hype about a great vintage will be forgotten, three years from now when the first red wines start to appear for sale.

1 comment:

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    Rattlesnake

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