MCMINNVILLE, Ore. -- La Nina weather has created unique growing conditions for Oregon wines that some experts believe could produce some of the best grapes in years.

This season's first barrel tastings showed Pinot with bold color and an exploding bold, fruity taste. Critics said the 2011 vintage could produce the best Oregon Pinot since 2008.

Just last weekend, the L.A. Times reported on the success of Oregon wines and mentioned the favorable buzz over the last two years.

Josh Bergstrom of Bergstrom Winery was quoted in the L.A. Times report. He said if the 2011 wines win world acclaim, it will be a strong statement to the wine industry of what can be done in the valley's cool and often damp climate.

Oregon growers said that the 80-degree weather of two weekends ago brought bud-break, which was a good thing. A cool year allows and sometimes forces the grapes to hang on the vine for extra weeks in the fall, which makes for better wine.Farmers are now in the vineyard feeling good about this coming season.

Oregon's wine industry is 45 years old and feeling very good about the next 40 years to come. 2011 was the largest harvest for the state on record. A growing number of vineyards were responsible for the increase.

Last year saw one of the latest bud-breaks on record for vineyards in the Willamette valley. It resulted in one of the latest fall harvests on record. In some cases, fruit was still on the vine Thanksgiving weekend. Vineyard owners said they were one rain storm away from not being able to harvest the grapes at all.

Due to a cool summer, farmers were forced to leave grapes on the vine into deep fall to allow for ripening. The weather did provide a nice period in October and a break in November to complete the harvest.

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