NW vineyards off to a slow start

NW vineyards off to a slow start

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by Meteorologist Rod Hill

Bio | Email | Follow: @kgwrodhill

kgw.com

Posted on May 4, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Updated Thursday, May 5 at 10:01 AM

PORTLAND - Once again, Oregon's record-setting cool and wet spring is having an impact, this time in the hills of Yamhill County. 

Vineyard farmers say the bud break, the opening of leaves on the vines, is about two weeks late. Once the leaves bud out, the vines need a good five months of relatively dry and warm days to fully ripen the fruit.

It's still too early to tell if this year will see yields drop off 25-50 percent, which is what happened a year ago. A smaller crop could hurt the bottom line of area vineyards. 

Darin Ingram from King's Raven Winery in Oregon City, says this season is about two weeks behind last year.

Last year, grape farmers lost up to 50 percent of their expected harvest. One reason was the unusually wet June.

The impact on the quality of last year's grapes is still being debated. The early taste test of last year's vintage depends on the variety and who you talk to.

Doug Tunnell of Brick House Vineyards says he is very pleased with the quality of the 2010 season.  He does admit, a second year of cutting yields will eventually hurt his pocketbook.

The Willamette Valley's last celebrated year for grapes was back in 2008.

Growers are hoping the coming weeks bring dry weather and temperatures reaching 70 degrees or higher. 

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer wine tasting season. Many area vineyards currently have wine tasting rooms open a couple days a week.  

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