OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington produced a record 210,000 tons of wine grapes in 2013, up 12 percent from the year before, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Production has been climbing for years. It was 160,000 tons in 2010 but slumped to 142,000 tons in 2011 because of freeze damage and lack of summer heat. It reached 188,000 tons in 2012.
At the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers annual meeting in Kennewick, Feb. 5, Steve Warner, president of the Washington Wine Commission, said he foresees continued growth as vineyard acreage increases.
Red varieties increased 13 percent and whites were up 10 percent. Whites accounted for 49 percent of total production, a slight decrease from 2012, NASS said in its March 3 report of the 2013 crop year.
“Our demand for wine is good, especially reds. We foresee continued growth. We’re still seeking new acreage and are looking for opportunities to expand,” Kevin Corliss, vice president of vineyards of Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, the state’s largest winery, told Capital Press.
With a relatively mild winter, prospects for the 2014 crop are good at this point with weather always an unknown factor, Corliss said.
“In most cases, we’ve not had damaging temperatures. I would expect a normal crop load and with new vineyards, more grapes,” he said.
Grapevine red blotch virus, causing grapes low in sugar and high in acid, is a concern and phytosanitary issues in general are one of the industry’s top research priorities, Corliss said.
Of the top four producing varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon showed the largest increase in 2013 of 19 percent, the NASS report said. Growers received an average of $1,110 per ton for all varieties, up $70 from 2012.
Of published varieties, Grenache received the highest price of $1,889 per ton. Cabernet Sauvignon was the top producing variety at 42,600 tons or 20 percent of the total. Chardonnay was second at 40,500 tons or 19 percent. White Riesling was a close third with 40,100 tons and 19 percent. Merlot was fourth at 36,000 tons or 17 percent.
The Cabernet Sauvignon price increased $103 per ton from last year to $1,440 and the average Chardonnay price was up $12 per ton to $916. Growers received an average of $796 per ton for White Riesling, up $13, and the average Merlot price was $1,186, up $82.