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Wine grape growers anticipate another record year


By DAN WHEAT



Capital Press



KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Wine grape growers in Washington should expect another record crop in 2013, barring a major spring frost, an experienced vintner says.



With more new acreage coming into production and more recovery from the 2010 freeze, the state's vineyards should surpass the record 188,000 tons of 2012, Wade Wolfe, winemaker for Thurston Wolfe Winery of Prosser and a past chairman of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, said after speaking at the association's annual meeting, Feb. 6.



Beside no major frost or freeze, enough warm days is a key, he noted.



He told the growers their warmest season was 2003 and warmth continued through 2007. Cooler weather has largely prevailed since then and 2012 was just slightly above average in heat, he said. Sporadic heavy rains were a problem in 2012 with 9.24 inches of rain from April 1 through Oct. 31, compared with the average of 7 inches, he said. It resulted in low to moderate mildew, he said.



While the National Agricultural Statistics Service recently released a report saying the 2012 Washington wine grape crop was 188,000 tons, the association's own post-harvest survey was 203,000 tons, Wolfe said.



"So there's some discussion of what the actual crop was, but regardless it was a record," he said.



Vicky Scharlau, association executive director, said the two numbers are different measurements. The NASS number is largely based on sales while the association number has nothing to do with sales but is based on crush estimates from wineries, she said.



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