SEATTLE – Taste of Washington highlights record 2016 grape harvest as wineries said they are trying to keep up with growing consumer demand.
“It’s fantastic for Washington wines,” said JJ Williams, who runs Kiona Vineyards and Winery with his family.
Kiona Vineyards grows grapes and produces wines in the Red Mountain AVA area of Washington, near the Tri-Cities. Kiona Vineyards was one of more than 300 wineries in Seattle for the Taste of Washington. Williams said the record year is great for businesses and farmers, but even better for customers.
“It’s really good for consumers,” he said.
Not only was grape production up 22 percent over the year prior, the grapes that were produced were some of the best the region has seen, he said. “You can have a cabernet that at any other year would have been in an $80 dollar bottle, is all of a sudden in a $20 or $30 dollar bottle,” said Williams.
For consumers, that means your $20 dollar of wine won’t be less expensive but it will taste better and be easier to find.
“This allows for more supply into distribution. Which means we can get more Washington state wines in groceries store shelves and in restaurants,” said Steve Warner, president and CEO of Washington State Wine. Warner credits the cold snap that happened in early fall last year, to the quality of the harvest.
“It allowed the fruit to hang a little longer which allowed it to develop more flavors and more acidity,” he said. “Near perfect growing conditions for grapes.”
“It’s like having a full hand in poker, we’ve got it all,” said winemaker Don Corson, of Camaraderie Wines. Corson said that between Washington’s climate and soil, it’s hard for areas like Napa to compete.
“They are the best value, they are best quality,” he said of the area’s grapes.
In fact, the newest market emerging to the crop is export.
“A lot of high end Napa wineries are sourcing Washington fruit,” said Williams. “The land down there is so expensive and so you’re paying for the price of the land anytime you buy a bottle of California wine.”