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January 2014 Issue of Wines & Vines
 
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Vintage 2013

West Coast enjoys another stellar year; much of East Coast has dry harvest; Texas and Colorado severely damaged by cold

 
by Andrew Adams
 
 
Growers and winemakers in the western half of North America enjoyed the rare treat of back-to-back harvests marked by good yields and high quality with few headaches from pests or weather.

Many in California reported that a dry spring kicked off an early start to the growing season. Predictions in early summer that the state could see the earliest harvest ever soon proved premature, however, as cooler temperatures slowed ripening, allowing winemakers and growers more latitude with their pick decisions. “In a nutshell, this vintage has given the extraordinary gift of enabling us to pick exactly what we wanted, when we wanted, at perfect ripeness and ideal hang time,” said Paul Colantuoni, winemaker at Rocca Family Vineyards in Napa Valley.

In many of the central and eastern growing regions of North America, a cool spring and early summer were followed by unseasonable warm and dry conditions that enabled grapes to ripen without much threat of mold and rot problems. “It was the fall that saved the year for us,” said David Scurlock, the viticulture outreach specialist with Ohio State University. He said that Ohio’s vineyards produced a large crop and that drier conditions in September helped ensure quality.

However, the southwestern United States and almost all of the Texas wine country experienced severe early season frosts that ravaged vineyards. The Texas High Plains, which produces the most wine grapes in the state, lost 80% to 90% of its potential yield. Vineyards that escaped the frost were then pummeled by hail in May.

More than half the wine grape crop in Colorado was lost to extreme cold in the winter as well April freezes. In New Mexico, a dry start to the season followed by late frosts reduced the state’s crop by more than half. The drought conditions in New Mexico also are thought to have triggered more pressure from flea beetles that defoliated vines.

Arizona growers had to contend with a surprising lack of sunshine and some late-season rainstorms that led to bunch rot. Despite the cooler and wetter weather, Arizona growers were still happy with grape quality.

In many regions, growers and vintners dealt with a shortage of available tanks. The issue has come up in other years, but with varieties ripening around the same time in many parts of California and Washington, it was especially problematic this year.

A rush to plant grapes in British Columbia has created an oversupply issue. “Over the last four to five years, orchards have been pulled due to low prices, and this acreage has been planted mainly to wine grapes, mostly uncontracted,” said Richard Cleave, the owner of Phantom Creek Vineyard and a consulting viticulturist. “Now that they are coming into production, the problem is compounding,”

On the East Coast, conditions were reported as excellent nearly everywhere thanks to the drier-than-normal summer and fall. In New Jersey, 2013 was likened to the 1978 vintage of Bordeaux, which wine writer Harry Waugh dubbed “the miracle year” due to its rocky start. North Carolina, however, had reached its annual average rainfall total by mid-July. Some waterlogged vines died, and achieving ripeness was especially hard. A dry September helped growers salvage what fruit had survived the wet summer.

Wines & Vines thanks those who participated in this year’s survey. If your region was not included, and you’d like to contribute to the report next year, contact us at edit@winesandvines.com.

Points covered in this report

The survey consisted of the following questions. Some participants did not answer all the questions.

• Please summarize the quality and quantity of the overall 2013 harvest crop in your area.

• Characterize the growing season weather, with emphasis on unusually good or bad weather around harvest.

• Describe significant pest and/or disease pressure.

• Note changes in grape prices, demand, unusually high or low yields.

• Describe any significant use of new technologies, techniques and/or viticulture and winemaking equipment.

• Note logistical challenges such as water shortages, tank space, labor availability, quarantines, etc.

• Address specific challenges or successes of major varietals/types.

CALIFORNIA
Alameda County

Other regional designation: Livermore Valley

With a long growing season, we are seeing great quality fruit come in and are excited about the 2013 wines Livermore Valley will produce. The crop size for 2013 is up from previous years, with most varietals yielding 10% to 20% increases over 2012 and significant production gains compared to the lighter 2010 and 2011 seasons. Rarely have we seen a vintage as evenly grown and unproblematic as this one.

Weather: This year’s harvest started about a week earlier than 2012 due to a warmer summer and a drier spring, giving us a nearly perfect growing season. Our harvest window was wide and comfortable.

Pests/diseases: It was a stress-free growing season with disease pressure being normal to slightly elevated for mildew.

Supply/demand: Grape prices have climbed a small amount during the past few years, and supply is adequate. 2013 yields were unusually high in general.

Logistics:The vintage came in evenly, allowing production to keep pace with picking.

Varieties:This year’s Petite Sirah looks to be our best in the past five years, showing amazing color and pure varietal character across all of our vineyards.

Chris Chandler
Executive director, Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado and Tuolumne counties
Regional designations: Sierra Foothills, California Shenandoah Valley, El Dorado, Fair Play

Sound and tasty fruit with beautiful color and outstanding quality characterizes an “easy” 2013 crop for the Sierra foothills. A fast and furious harvest—one of the earliest many could remembe r—produced slightly higher than average tonnage in most blocks. Growers and winemakers from across California’s foothill counties celebrated the quality produced in 2013, with few challenges other than logistics.

Weather: Drought is a major concern following the second year of below-average rainfall; understanding site capacity is the key. Hot temperatures in July evened out by harvest; rain in September provided mostly respite, not detriment, for the vines.

Pests/diseases: Mites reared their ugly heads early in some blocks and reappeared later—a nod to the hot and dry conditions. There was little to no mildew or botrytis.

Supply/demand: Some growers reported an increase in demand accompanied by rising prices to reward those who worked for it.

Technology/techniques: The powdery mildew risk index was available via two new Amador County stations funded by a collaborative effort. Heat limited the prevalence of disease along with diligent spraying.

Challenges: The region experienced a sudden and “somewhat taxing” harvest, as the ripeness window was small. Yosemite fires made smoke a concern for vineyards at higher elevations. Some winemakers lightened up the press cycle for red wines, and a few reported actual smoke taint.

Lynn Wunderlich
Farm advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)

Lake and Mendocino counties
Good yields and exceptional quality. Chardonnay and Zinfandel crops were large; Pinot Noir was down.

Weather: Warm spring, average summer, fairly dry at harvest. Not too much extended heat.

Pests/diseases: Virginia creeper leafhopper continues to be a problematic new pest, particularly for organic and Biodynamic grapegrowers.

Supply/demand: Some oversupply due to high yields.

Challenges: Tank space was a problem in some wineries.

Varieties: Overall good harvest, lots of ripe fruit, good wines in the pipeline.

Glenn McGourty
Farm advisor, UCCE

Merced and Mariposa
This was an uneventful year in Merced County, which was nice. Everything got sold. Wine grapes continue to be planted, but not to the extent of almonds. Groundwater over-drafting issues are becoming a source of concern for permanent crop growers in many areas.

In Mariposa County there were no problems selling grapes this year. Ripening can be scary in the upper elevations, but this year presented no problem at all. Some growers had higher yields and some lower, but in all cases maturity was fine. Wineries reported that the grapes looked and tasted better this year.

Pests/diseases: Pest issues were moderate and easily managed. There was very little rot, which in some cases was due to wineries asking growers to leave heavier crops, which can lead to looser bunches. I was surprised at how heavy the wineries were asking growers to crop young blocks. It was fortuitous that we had such a good year. We have not spotted the brown marmorated stink bug in Merced County yet, but pest control advisors (PCAs) need to be on the lookout everywhere. Grapevine red blotch disease also has not been identified in this region.

Maxwell Norton
Farm advisor and county director, UCCE

Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties
Yields were average to above average for most vineyards and varieties. Grapes ripened earlier than normal, and ideal weather post-véraison resulted in great fruit quality. The early start resulted in an extended harvest with scheduling delays due to tank space limitations. After the problems in 2010 and 2011, most growers were happy to see another year of good yields and quality.

Weather: 2013 was above average in growing-degree days. The season was characterized by consistently moderate temperatures and an absence of any significant heat wave spikes.

Pests/diseases: We experienced lower disease pressure from powdery mildew and botrytis bunch rot. Insect pressure also was low.

Supply/demand: Prices of contracted grapes have improved; as higher yields became evident, the price and demand weakened for grapes on the spot market.

Logistics: The lack of adequate tank space and crush capacity became a limiting factor in the scheduling and delivery of grapes.

Challenges: Lower than normal rainfall is a concern along California’s Central Coast.

Larry Bettiga
Viticulture farm advisor, UCCE

Napa County
The 2013 growing season was characterized by warm, dry spring weather, early bud break, few damaging spring frost events, even set, moderate day and night temperatures through the growing season and an early (Aug. 1) start of harvest that brought in an average to above-average crop for the second consecutive season.

Weather: Moderate day and night temperatures with a very dry spring and fall. Oakville recorded 4.07 inches of precipitation Jan 1-May 31, and 0.13 inches Oct. 1-Nov. 13.

Supply/demand: Average to above-average yields.

Challenges: 2013 is on track to be the driest year in recorded history.

Monica Cooper
Farm advisor-viticulture, UCCE

San Joaquin County
Other regional designations: Lodi, River Junction, Tracy Hills

Yields were as high or higher than 2012, on average. Zinfandel was most consistently so; other varieties were variable, but mostly higher. Bunch rot was minimal due to dry soil conditions and moderate weather for the second year. Fruit quality was very good, but acids were lower than 2012. Harvest began early by two weeks and then slowed after September rain. Harvest of later varieties finished in late October.

Wea ther: It was a warm and very dry spring. The season was mild with only four days above 100° F and minimums below average, with no morning dew, as is usual. September rain stalled mid-season and maturity of later varieties.

Pests/diseases: Powdery mildew pressure started late. Mites came very late and scattered. Vine mealybug is under control; light brown apple moth spreads. Some “slip skin” rot after rain.

Supply/demand: Prices started strong but softened with a huge crop. Contract overages occurred. Muscat types and quality reds wanted for blends or varietal wines.

Technology/techniques: LED lighting and GPS mapping on some harvesters. Flash Détente used locally. Interest in high-wire cordon for machine-pruned vines. Safety equipment.

Challenges: Regulatory costs were up, labor OK and input costs up. Water coalition costs up.

Varieties: Lodi fruit is competitive for quality and value. There are a growing number of small wineries, while large wineries are expanding. Growers look for higher yield and/or lower costs at same quality.

Paul Verdegaal
Farm advisor, UCCE

San Luis Obispo
Other regional designation: Paso Robles

The 2013 harvest looks like it’s going to be a classic in Paso Robles. Yields were just below average (down 20% from 2012) with good ripeness and balance. We’re seeing very dark colors already and excellent intensity, similar in many ways to 2007—though a touch lower sugars at picking.

Weather: A growing season without either heat spikes or cool stretches produced our earliest finish to harvest since 2001, and one of our shortest ever. Harvest proceeded under ideal conditions.

Supply/demand: Yields were just below average due to a second consecutive year of drought, and we saw some increased pressure on grape prices.

Technology/techniques: We were much more rigorous on yield control this year because we wanted to make sure not to over-stress the vines after the dry winter.

Logistics: Water was scarce, but we dry-farm most vintages and cropped accordingly.

Varieties: The harvest seems strong across the board: both reds and whites.

Jason Haas
Partner and general manager, Tablas Creek Vineyard

Sonoma County
Good cluster counts and fruit set produced better-than-average yields across all varieties. Bud break and bloom were early, and periods of warm temperatures, little rainfall and no fog led to an early start and compressed harvest. By mid-September, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were all being picked, and both growers and winemakers noted exceptional fruit quality.

Weather: Light rain Sept. 21 and a trace a week later did not cause significant rot. Dry winds with high temperatures in the 90°s in early October reduced tonnage in both Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

Pests/diseases: Strong winds prevented timely fungicide applications, resulting in powdery mildew challenges. Bunch stem necrosis reduced tonnage in some blocks.

Supply/demand: Wineries reduced prices on tons exceeding contract amounts, yet nearly all fruit was sold. Zinfandel yields were close to or greater than 2012 levels.

Challenges: Insufficient crush capacity and labor continue to be critical issues.

Rhonda J. Smith
Viticulture farm advisor, UCCE
 

 

 

NORTHWEST
British Columbia
Other regional designations: South Okanagan

Overall quality was excellent with tonnage per acre about average. There were quite a few acres not picked due to an oversupply situation.

Weather: Although we had a cooler than normal October, our degree-day total was the best since 1998.

Pests/diseases: There was quite a bit of rot in some white varieties and Pinot Noir. We saw some very small areas of spotted wing drosophila for the first time.

Supply/demand: Because of an over-supply situation, there was extreme downward pressure on prices for uncontracted grapes.

Technology/techniques: Many more leaf-removal machines were around this year.

Logistics: As always, there was a shortage of red fermenting tanks.

Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon is always a challenge, but it did very well this year.

Richard Cleave
Owner, Phantom Creek Vineyard

Idaho
Quantity was down a little bit, maybe 20%-25%; yields weren’t as high. Quality on red wine is looking exceptionally good. September rain had some negative impact on the grapes. White grapes were impacted more heavily than red. Fortunately we had long, hot days, so sugar levels were high enough. Most of the white varieties did extremely well.

Weather: We had winter and spring damage. During the bulk of the growing season we had some nice dry, hot days. September brought huge rain just before harvest, which was difficult because of insect pressure.

Pests/diseases: Spider mites were a problem. Mildew wasn’t an issue, and we were able to avert rot damage.

Supply/demand: Riesling, Petite Sirah and Merlot yielded low tonnage. Grape prices are starting to creep up a bit, and demand is high.

Logistics: We had variety shortages, which will get worse as demand increases.

Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon responded well to the colder winter. It will be exciting to see how the 2013 vintage turns out—we think it is very promising.

Moya Dolsby

Executive director, Idaho Wine Commission

Oregon
Willamette Valley (all AVAs), Southern Oregon (all AVAs), Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla Valley

Fruit set was moderate to low across the Willamette Valley, depending on timing of bloom. This resulted in moderate to low yields on par with 2012 or slightly above 2012 yields.

Southern Oregon, the Columbia Gorge and Walla Walla Valley saw moderate yields that are likely to be higher than what was reported in 2012.

Weather: The growing season began earlier with drier conditions in April and early May. Summer was warmer and drier than 2012, and grape phenology advanced by one or two weeks earlier than recent years. Rain began in September.

Pests/diseases: We saw no “unusual” pest or disease. Typical concerns existed in the Willamette Valley with Botrytis at harvest. Growers managed, as they are used to dealing with this.

Supply/demand: There was increased demand for Pinot Noir due to new vineyard investments. Prices increased over all, most significantly for Pinot Noir.

Logistics: Labor availability is becoming more challenging in this region.

Patty Skinkis
Viticulture extension specialist and associate professor, Oregon State University

Oregon
Douglas, Josephine, Jackson counties

Other regional designations: Southern Oregon

According to most of the growers and winemakers, the 2013 vintage was an exceptional one in Southern Oregon. The fruit set was great, which was reflected in a significantly larger yield than normal. For some white varieties such as Vermentino, the yield surpassed expectations. Many winemakers indicated that it’s been years since they’ve seen grapes so balanced between flavor and basic chemistry.

Weather: After a good start, the season was two weeks ahead by the end of August. Due to extended smoke brush fire in August—along with cool/wet weather in September—the season ended close to a normal year.

Pests/diseases: Botrytis was reported in just a few varieties, affecting between 1% and 5% of the yield. Red blotch virus has been identified in a few vineyards.

Supply/demand: More than 40% of the yield produced in the Rogue Valley was sold to wineries in locations farther north (Umpqua and Willamette valleys).

Technology/techniques: More wireless weather stations were installed. This allowed growers to use real-time data for frost protection, water management and pest management.

Logistics: The weather generated problems with contracted labor availability.

Varieties: Malbec is one variety in demand. Many blocks of Merlot have been top-grafted with Malbec.

Dr. Gabriel Balint

Research/extension viticulturist, Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center

Washington
Vineyards in the state produced fruit of very high quality and seemingly large quantity.

Weather: This year was warmer than usual, especially at night in September. Some areas had rain at inopportune times, but this was not a statewide problem.

Pests/diseases: None noticed.

Supply/demand: Demand for uncontracted Riesling was almost nil. There are still some reds hanging with no home at any price.

Technology/techniques: More producers are exploring post-stemming sorting machinery that eliminates manual sorting.

Logistics: Warm temps compressed harvest, making tank space an operative logistic

Varieties: Properly managed reds had great color and flavor. Rain in some areas caused rot in delicate whites.

Janet Heath
Program manager, Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers

CENTRAL
Arizona
Cochise, Santa Cruz, Yavapai counties

Other regional designations: Sonoita

Arizona’s wine grape growers felt it was a good year for both quantity and quality of the wine grapes harvested.

Weather: All vineyards in Arizona commented on the amount of rain and cloudy days that have occurred late in the season. The cloudy days made it difficult for grapes to ripen and caused significant bunch rot.

Supply/demand: Demand is up, as is production. The latest production figures show 181,000 gallons produced in 2012, whereas 85,000 gallons were produced in 2011.

Patricia King
Executive director, Arizona Wine Growers Association

Colorado
The main features that determined Colorado’s harvest were extreme cold temperature events that caused significant bud and trunk damage in late December 2012 and mid-January 2013. Two late-April freezes caused more damage, mainly to early breaking varieties. Statewide crop losses are estimated at 50% or more. Although the grape crop was small, quality was good.

Weather: Temperatures were average, but the main growing regions had unusually high rainfall. Occasional rains with cooler temperatures slowed down harvest.

Pests/diseases: The wetter conditions near harvest caused some bunch rot problems in late-maturing varieties, a rare occurrence in Western Colorado’s semi-arid climate.

Supply/demand: Winery demand far exceeded grape production. As a result, grape prices continue to rise.

Logistics: Even with a smaller crop, labor availability continues to be a concern.

Varieties: Merlot, the most-planted variety, was one of the most damaged varieties, whereas Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling had less damage.

Horst Caspari
Professor and state viticulturist, Colorado State University

Indiana
Other regional designations: Ohio River Valley AVA, Indiana Uplands AVA

Quality was excellent this year. The cool conditions of early summer were perfect for early and mid-season aromatic whites such as Traminette, Indiana’s signature grape. Warmer temperatures in late August and September were ideal for fully ripening late-season reds. Dry conditions through late summer and fall greatly reduced fruit rot problems.

Weather: 2013 was a good growing season. We had adequate rainfall early in the year, then dry and cool conditions during early summer, with warmer temperatures in late summer and a long, dry fall.

Pests/diseases: Spotted wing drosophila was found attacking table and wine grapes in July, but the populations declined in late September.

Supply/demand: Prices continue to be dictated by out-of-state competition, and Indiana growers do not get the prices they deserve relative to supply and demand.

Bruce Bordelon
Viticulture professor, Purdue University

Iowa
The grape crop was slightly greater than average due to the excessive rainfall early in the season followed by dry conditions during the following months, which lowered the potential for disease.

Weather: Record rainfall and cold early through June 25. Cold spring set back pollination 10-14 days. Pollination completed just prior to dry period with very low humidity the rest of the season.

Pests/diseases: Very low disease pressure due to pollination occurring 10-14 days later than normal.

Supply/demand: Wine grape prices are starting to trend upward. Average prices of $900 to $1,200 per ton delivered to the winery now are $1,000 to $1,400 per ton.

Technology/techniques: Iowa now has seven mechanical harvesters. More cold storage is being built at vineyards for improved fruit quality.

Logistics: Tank space and labor shortage is common every season in Iowa.

Varieties: LaCrescent is trending as signature wine grape, although it has problems with downy mildew, poor pollination and shelling. Sparkling wines are becoming more common.

Michael L. White
Viticulture specialist, Iowa State University

Michigan
Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim and Benzie counties

Other regional designations: Old Mission Peninsula, Leelanau Peninsula

Northwest Michigan vineyard managers have reported average to above-average yields for the 2013 harvest. Insects and diseases were generally not significant problems in area vineyards, resulting in good fruit quality. Fruit ripened slowly, but adequate maturity was achieved, even in late varieties.

Weather: The 2013 season was cool, with few days in the 90°s this year—a big change from the excessively warm 2012 season. Rainy and very cool weather has been troublesome since the beginning of October.

Pests/diseases: A few vineyards had late-season issues with powdery mildew, but insect pressure was relatively low throughout the season.

Dr. Duke Elsner
Small fruit educator, Michigan State University Extension

Missouri
Other regional designations: Missouri, Augusta, Hermann, Ozark Highland, Ozark Mountain

Overall, the 2013 grape crop was good. This year’s crop was very large, and quality seemed to be good.

Weather: Compared to last year’s hot, dry conditions and early harvest, the 2013 year was cool and wet. A long winter left Missouri with a later harvest but dry conditions.

Pests/diseases: Cool, wet conditions had growers spraying for fungus and other diseases. The dry weather in July through October and hot days in September helped the harvest.

Supply/demand: Grape prices have stayed consistent with other years. In 2013 we had higher yields for most grape varieties.

Technology/techniques: More Missouri vineyards are moving into harvesting equipment for their vineyards versus the more traditional hand-harvesting.

Logistics: Since more growers added irrigation during the 2012 season, 2013 yields required more tank space.

Varieties: Missouri’s 1,700 acres are mostly French and American hybrids. Norton makes up about 20% of the total, followed by Vignoles, Chambourcin and Chardonel.

Jim Anderson
Executive director, Missouri Wine and Grape Board

New Mexico
The 2013 harvest started at the end of July and overall provided high-quality fruit at a reduced yield. Fungus pressure was very low due to low humidity, and many growers did not need to worry about spraying. Many growers base their variety selection on winter hardiness and late bud break.

Weather: Starting the season at very low humidity levels led to vine desiccation in all parts of the state, and in many places plants died back to the ground. Late frosts caused damage in varieties with early bud break.

Pests/diseases: Two generations of flea beetles were very overwhelming. Growers reported that infestations at these levels had not been seen before.

Bernd Maier
Extension viticulture specialist, New Mexico State University

Ohio
Despite weather challenges (cooler than normal and rainy days during ripening), quality of fruit was better than expected. With a mild winter and absence of significant spring frost, quantity is expected to be normal or even higher than normal.

Weather: The 2013 growing-degree days were very close to the 30-year average, resulting in normal harvest time. Precipitation was belo w normal in the winter and early spring but spiked in April, June, July and October. This resulted in higher than normal disease pressure, especially with downy mildew. Rainy weather near ripening also hastened harvest of rot-prone varieties to avoid further fruit breakdown.

Pests/diseases: Downy mildew pressure was higher than normal. Yellow jacket number was unusually high, which made hand-picking difficult. Spotted wing drosophilae were trapped, and fruit damage from larvae was observed.

Supply/demand: Yields were high due to absence of cold damage, low crop last year and wet growing season.

Varieties: Commercially, Gruner Veltliner is a newly planted variety that is gaining popularity with wineries and consumers. Research-wise, we are observing good performances from some varieties (including Gamay Noir, Regent and Arneis) in our trial at OSU, and we’re recommending them to the industry.

Dr. Imed Dami
Associate professor, Department of Horticulture & Crop Science Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center

Oklahoma
2013 proved to be a tough year for Oklahoma vineyards. Redlands Community College professor Andrew Snyder reported a 75%-80% loss compared to normal harvests of vinifera varieties due to a May 4 freeze. While discouraging, frost is often a possibility when growing vinifera in the Midwest.

Weather: Besides the late freeze, the spring and early summer were unusually wet. Temperatures stayed below 100° F for the most part. August turned dry, a more typical pattern.

Pests/diseases: The wet spring and early summer led to more powdery mildew and black rot pressure, requiring fairly aggressive fungicide applications.

Supply/demand: With the widespread losses, demand for grapes was high. Those with established relationships with growers still managed to buy some grapes.

Varieties: Hybrids did much better than vinifera, with Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc and Chardonel being more fruitful. Vinifera was almost a total loss.

Dr. Harry Flynn
Secretary, Oklahoma Grape Growers and Winemakers Association

Texas
The overall quality of the Texas 2013 harvest was high, but production was down dramatically from previous years. The Texas High Plains, which is the leading production region, suffered an unprecedented series of late frosts that reduced yields between 80% and 90%. Frost injury was less widespread in the Texas Hill Country, but hailstorms in May severely damaged several vineyards.

Weather: Other than the major frost and hail events, growing-season weather was generally favorable, and ripening conditions were good.

Pests/diseases: Disease and insect pressure were about average in 2013.

Supply/demand: Grape demand remained strong and prices stayed high due to continued expansion of wineries. The supply and demand situation was exacerbated by major crop losses.

Varieties: Varieties with late bud break, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre, generally produced more crop than earlier varieties.

Ed Hellman
Viticulture extension specialist, Texas A&M University

EAST
Maryland
Fruit quality in 2013 was uniformly high. Extensive berry sampling after véraisonevidenced some very tasty fruit, and the numbers were right on the mark. Acids seemed a bit high earlier in the season, and sugars a tad low, but both improved as the fruit matured. One might wish for a bit more in terms of crop size, but quality is more important than quantity.

Weather: The weather was iffy through mid-summer, with lots of rain and cold temperatures, but cleared up after that. A killing frost in May took out a lot of fruit in some locations.

Pests/diseases: The season was unusually disease free, with the standard culprit powdery mildew virtually absent. Some fruit rots were detected early but dried up soon.

Supply/demand: All fairly stable.

Technology/techniques: Industry-related matters such as demand, costs and technology all remained fairly stable.

Varieties: Varietal preferences were largely standard, although lesser known varieties such as Albariño, Petit Manseng and Blaufrankish are becoming more common.

Jack Johnston
Editor, Maryland Grape Growers Association newsletter

NEW YORK— Long Island
Other regional designations: Suffolk County

The 2013 harvest will be remembered as excellent on Long Island. Despite being slightly cooler than the 2012 season, harvest was accelerated by drier than normal conditions starting in summer and extending through harvest. Fruit was clean, balanced and flavorful. Growers were able to harvest at peak ripeness; there was no rush to harvest prior to storms or other unfavorable weather.

Weather: After 10 inches of rain in June, rainfall was well below average from July through late October.

Pests/diseases: We were fortunate in that there was no unusual pest pressure. Post-véraison cluster rot, both Botrytis and sour rot, were absent or at low levels.

Supply/demand: Because the favorable weather promoted very ripe fruit, growers found eager buyers locally and regionally.

Technology/techniques: Growers are more diligent about cluster-zone leafing at or just after bloom to improve air flow and light penetration and to reduce disease.

Logistics: The extended drought did not impact vineyards as most have irrigation.

Varieties: Alternative varieties such as Albariño, Gruner Veltliner and Refosco are thriving. E xperimentation with varieties new to Long Island will continue.

Alice Wise
Senior resource educator, Cornell University Cooperative Extension

NEW YORK— Finger Lakes
Other regional designations: Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben and Yates counties

Finger Lakes had a good year quality-wise, due in large part to sunny and dry conditions in late August and September. Despite cloudy and wet conditions during much of bloom, fruit set was higher than normal in many varieties. Many blocks also had more clusters per vine, resulting in higher than normal yields in many cases. Plenty of canopy growth meant vines were not over-cropped, however.

Weather: The first part of the season had near-normal temperatures and more rain than normal. Drier weather predominated after véraison. September had between 50% and 70% the average amount of rain for the month, depending on location.

Pests/diseases: Rain during bloom and set caused early botrytis infections in vinifera varieties. Dry weather at harvest kept rots from getting really ugly.

Supply/demand: Yields in labrusca varieties were some of the highest in years. Most growers had above-average crops across varieties. Some fruit didn’t find homes.

Technology/techniques: Some Concord growers with very heavy crops employed mechanical thinning to reduce vine stress and improve sugar levels at harvest.

Logistics: High yields had many wineries scrambling for tank space.

Hans Walter-Peterson
Viticulture extension specialist, Cornell University

New Jersey
The long, warm fall turned the 2013 vintage into an exceptional one in New Jersey. Quantities were down a little due to poor fruit set in some cases, and some small producers that weren’t on top of their sprays during the rainy period in June and July lost crops. The majority of the industry controlled those early problems, however, and had top-quality grapes to harvest.

Weather: The exceptional weather in September and October turned this vintage around, and growers that were once pessimistic are now anticipating wonderful wines from the 2013 vintage. For growers in New Jersey, this year resembles 1978 in Bordeaux, which was characterized as “the miracle year” by wine writer Harry Waugh due to its rocky start and wonderful wines.

Pests/diseases: Spotted wing drosophila is being monitored, and its effect on grapes in New Jersey is being evaluated.

Supply/demand: Grape prices are up with many wineries looking for grapes. Sales are brisk, and vineyard development is being encouraged.

Varieties: New Jersey is testing many grape varieties in its vineyards. Viognier, Barbera, Tempranillo and some of the Portuguese varieties are doing very well.

Gary C. Pavlis
Professor, Rutgers University

North Carolina
The 2013 growing season started and finished late. Cool weather delayed bloom. Final quality was generally good. Color on most red varieties was excellent. Harvest was three to four weeks late due to cool weather.

Weather: Most of the state received annual rainfall totals by mid-July. There were few cloud-free days between bud break and Sept. 1. September was the saving grace for those who still had fruit.

Pests/diseases: Botrytis found on pea-size Chardonnay berries. Vitis vinifera growers who did not spray at shortened intervals had no leaves and/or crop by season’s end.

Supply/demand: It was no problem selling grapes of reasonable quality in 2013. There was a shortage of Muscadine grapes.

Challenges: There were reports of some vine death due to water-logged vines.

Varieties: Getting into vineyards to maintain good spray coverage was challenging.

Sara Spayd
Extension viticulture specialist, North Carolina State University

Ontario, Canada
2013 will be remembered as a slow, long harvest with higher than anticipated yields even where thinning occurred at correct times. Adequate moisture throughout the season kept vines and fruit moving along. There was only one very hot period in July. Vine growth was very good, and cluster development was slow and steady. Many late-season reds were harvested up to two weeks later than the 20-year average.

Weather: A slow, cool start to spring was the opposite of 2012. High moisture levels and good late-season growing conditions made for a large crop.

Pests/diseases: No unusual pressure noted, but there was some sour rot in early cultivars and high multi-colored Asian lady beetle activity near harvest. High levels of black rot and powdery mildew in organic blocks.

Supply/demand: Yields were very high this year—25% higher than anticipated in many blocks despite crop thinning (berry and cluster weights are up).

Logistics: Tanks filled quickly, making for prolonged harvest time in vineyards.

Varieties: Higher yields and longer time to reach winery standards led to extended harvest and some fruit loss in vineyards. The overall quality was very good for most.

Dr. Kevin W. Ker
Research associate, CCOVI Brock University

Pennsylvania
Lancaster, Berks, Lehigh, Chester, Center, Erie and Wyoming counties

Quality overall is very good to excellent, especially for white varieties but also for most reds. Vineyards hit by late spring frost had some yield reduction; otherwise yields were also very good.

Weather: May was punctuated by late frost events, and summer thundershowers seemed to never go away. But by the end of August, the weather dried out and white and most red grap es matured beautifully.

Pests/diseases: Late-season downy mildew was a problem for some vineyards. Powdery mildew was mostly absent. Vineyards experienced very little fruit rots.

Supply/demand: Grape supply and demand seems to be in good balance in most areas, however there are some shortages of high-quality vinifera grapes in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Technology/techniques: Wineries enlisted more use of sorting technologies on the crush pad than in years past.

Logistics: Labor availability is always a problem in eastern vineyards.

Varieties: White hybrid and vinifera wine quality should be excellent. Reds mostly succeeded, but some were affected by storms Oct. 11-12.

Mark Chien
Viticulture educator, Penn State University

Virginia
The state experienced excellent ripening weather for early to mid-season ripening grape varieties, but a prolonged coastal storm affected some late-hanging varieties. Cool ripening temperatures allowed for nice acid retention across varieties. A mid-May frost, high incidence of late-season bunch-stem necrosis and elevated rates of vertebrate animal feeding in vineyards limited yields in a year when demand for fruit was very high.

Weather: Bud break was around the third week of April in the northern Shenandoah Valley (Chardonnay). March and April were cooler than average; June and July were wetter than average, and September and October were drier than average except for the four-day period of rain Oct. 10-13.

Pests/diseases: Our 17-year periodical cicadas appeared in much of the northern Piedmont. Damage to young vines was pronounced in the midst of training trunks and cordons and with some cane pruned vineyards.

Supply/demand: Virginia growers experienced very high demand for fruit due to continued growth of the Virginia wine industry.

Technology/techniques: More and more Virginia vineyards are exploring the advantages of allowing grasses to grow beneath the trellis, and the Virginia Vineyards Association summer technical meeting focused on steep-terrain grapegrowing, as more vineyards in the state are planted on slopes up to 30%.

Logistics: Labor availability was quite tight, especially before and after a large rain event in early October.

Varieties: A cooler ripening period allowed most varieties to ripen adequately while retaining more acidity than typical for Virginia. Perhaps the most common recurring complaint heard this season was the depredation caused by vertebrate animals, particularly birds, raccoons and even bear.

Tremain Hatch
Viticulture research/extension associate, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

 

 
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