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NW Winemakers Hold Out Hope Despite Chilly Spring

Northwest winemakers are holding out hope for a good 2011 vintage despite the coldest spring they can remember in decades.

Growers say their plants are about three weeks behind their usual growth for this time of year.

Charlie Hoppes says in the 23 years he’s been making wine, this is the coldest spring he’s seen.

Near Walla Walla, there are some vines that were frozen back to the ground this past winter. That means managers will have to start vines again from the roots.

Where Hoppes makes wine near the Tri-Cities, a lot of the plants’ tender buds were frosted. He says instead of the strongest primary buds coming out to grow grapes, the plants are sending their second-string and third-string buds to play out the season. And he says those lesser buds usually make lesser wine.

Hoppes explained, “If you are trying to harvest all of them together it just doesnít work. ‘Cause they are usually not ripe at the same time that the primary clusters are ripe. Most of the time we don’t even use them at all.”

He plans to thin his grapes to ripen them faster. And he says he still holds out hope for a great vintage.

Washington State Wine Commission