EDITOR'S NOTE: Interest in this story has made it one of the most viewed and commented on our website. It was also the subject of Tuesday's Think Out Loud show. After our initial story based on the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences release of 10/5, we also received a release from the Oregon Wine Center, and a second release from OSU on 10/10. All are included at the bottom of this story.
Oregon appears to be on the brink of its worst wine grape harvest since the vineyard industry started a few decades ago.
Oregon State University experts say the late spring and wet early fall are threatening to keep wine grapes from ripening in time for harvest.
OSU extension service agent Steve Renquist says this year's weather hasn't brought the warm weather necessary to sweeten the grapes.
"This, I'm sure is going to be one of the greatest challenges, if not the greatest challenge to the grape growers in Oregon. It's the coolest year in the past 50 or so, coupled with a shorter growing season. That's just made for kind of the worst-case scenario. There's no telling what'll happen, let's say, over the next month, but it doesn't look real good at this point," Renquist said.
Renquist says things could still turn around, but he says it would take sustained sun and heat for a few weeks. He says the situation isn't uniformly bad -- that wine growers in southern and eastern Oregon appear to be faring better than those around the Willamette Valley.
Thursday afternoon the Oregon Wine Center issued a press release, saying winegrowers remain "optimistic" about this year's harvest. They say they're "marshaling all their skills and patience" to deal with the wet conditions. The Wine Center says 2010's harvest was also late, and that while the quantity of the harvest was "affected"– the quality was not.
Rob Manning's full interview with OSU extension service agent Steve Renquist
Please install Flash to hear the audio. Url:
Cool weather could affect this year's grapes - 10/5/2011 press release from The OSU College of Agricultural Sciences
Oregon Wine Industry Harvest Update: October 2011 - 10/6/2011 Oregon Wine Center press release
Cool weather could be an advantage to this year's Oregon wine vintage - 10/10/2011 press release from The OSU College of Agricultural Sciences
10/21 Despite Crop Concerns 2011 Vintage Excites Northwest Winemakers