Washington Harvest Down 16% in 2017

Price for Petit Verdot, Grenache Noir and Pinot Gris surges 11%

by Kate Lavin
wine vineyard harvest yields prices washington
Source: Washington State Wine.

Seattle, Wash.—Washington state wineries crushed 227,000 tons of wine grapes in 2017, a 16% drop from the previous year, according to the 2017 Grape Crush Report released today by the Washington State Wine trade association. The final tally fell short of estimates from the Washington Winegrowers meeting in February.

Cabernet Sauvignon was the most-harvested grape in the state, representing 27% of total wine grapes crushed with 62,200 tons, though the figure was down 14% from 2016. Chardonnay, meanwhile, held a 17% share of grapes crushed with 39,300 tons, also down 14%.

In a news release announcing the Grape Crush Report, Steve Warner, president of Washington State Wine, said: “2016 was an exceptionally large harvest in terms of grape cluster size and weight, and as such the vines had a natural response in 2017 to produce more normal yields.”

The cold, wet winter of 2016-17 resulted in delayed bud break and bloom. Harvest began in late August, though cool temperatures in late September “stalled” ripening, according to some winemakers, resulting in low sugar levels in some varieties.

Bright spots
In spite of depressed yields, the Pinot Gris harvest was up 11%, while the Malbec and Pinot Noir harvests were up 7% and 8%, respectively.

The average price per ton for wine grapes was up 3.5% to reach $1,198 per ton. Petit Verdot claimed the highest price per ton at $1,700, a gain of 15% over 2016 prices. Semillon was the most profitable white wine grape at $1,072 per ton, a modest 2% increase likely owed to its small yields (tonnage of the variety was down 33% from 2016).

The price of Mourvedre was up 14%, and Grenache Noir was up 11% compared to 2016.

Once the reigning grape of Washington state, white Riesling was down 20% in volume to 33,000 tons, and the price per ton was down 3% to $804 per ton. In the past five years, the largest Riesling harvest was documented in 2014 with 50,500 tons; the 2017 harvest was down 34% from that high point.

Chenin Blanc also has seen volumes shrink in the past five years. Thirteen-hundred tons of the variety were harvested in 2013, compared to just 365 tons in 2017—a 71% decrease.


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