The grapes are hanging

Just got off the phone with our Eastern Washington grower, who reported that the vines there and pretty much everywhere else are behind schedule, perhaps as much as a week to ten days. That would start our Washington harvest in October for the first time I can remember.

He says things are looking good, though, and to be sure, Washington has a wider picking window that the Willamette Valley, which is also behind. There’s a danger things may get so late we’ll slide into frost territory, but he’s confident the upper Yakima valley will get a few more degree days between now and then to ripen things up.

What the vintage won’t be is heavy, jammy, and Parker-friendly, I’ll bet. And that suits us just fine. In fact, I mentioned to the grower — who made wine in Southern France’s Côtes du Rhône for nearly a decade — that the cooler season would probably produce a truly French and correspondingly stellar Cabernet Franc, aromatic, floral, and effortless. He agreed.

The Willamette Valley may not get off so lightly, however. If Nazi scientists were to design a perfect set of circumstances to fester powdery mildew around here, this year would be it. Luckily, our Red Hills fruit is tended by pros, so while for many this may indeed be a vintage made on the sorting table, we’re feeling good we may not need one — and net some delicate, authentically Pinot fruit in the bargain.

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