Heat spells a growth spurt for Oregon vineyards

Credit: KGW Reporter Keely Chalmers

Heat spells a growth spurt for Oregon vineyards

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by Keely Chalmers and KGW.com Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @KeelyChalmers

kgw.com

Posted on May 7, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 8 at 10:09 AM

PORTLAND - The recent stretch of warm and dry weather is causing an explosion of growth at vineyards across the Willamette Valley.

But along with all the growth, come some challenges for grape growers.

Jim Prosser, owner of J.K. Carriere Wines in Newberg, said in the last two weeks his vines have grown about a foot. Normally they'd grow only about an inch or two in that time.

“It’s been out of control growing time,” said Prosser.

But it’s not just the vines growing like weeds, so are all the weeds and all the grasses in his pesticide-free vineyard.

“You don't want that grass to grow up to four feet, because while it looks really pretty waving in the wind, when it’s shading your grapes, that’s no bueno,” said Prosser.

As a result, Prosser has been forced to till the soil and plow the weeds about a month earlier than he normally would. Weeds that are now competing for whatever water is left in the soil.

“You wouldn't normally see this dry of soil at this time of year,” he explained.

Prosser said a little bit of rain in the near future would be a big help. And as long as we get that moisture this could shape up to be a banner year for Oregon pinots.

“We’re off to the best spring we’ve had in four years, and that’s fantastic for the wine industry to get this kind of start and warm weather and good early growth,” said Charles Humble with the Oregon Wine Board.

That means grapes could stay longer on the vines, resulting in a bolder wine. But experts caution it's far too early to make any predictions.

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