Officially, the first grapes to be picked for the 2016 grape harvest were Sauvignon Blanc from the Artz Vineyard on Red Mountain for the Auclair Winery on August 13th, with Pinot Gris for the Westport Winery not far behind. On August 19, Chardonnay was picked at 18-19 Brix for Karma Winery's sparkling wine. On the 31st, Syrah was picked at the Ziggy Stardust Block at the Elevation Vineyard in the southeast corner of the Walla Walla Valley for Sleight of Hand Cellars and co-fermented with 5% Marsanne.
Historically, white grapes are the first to be harvested each vintage - Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay. Chardonnay was picked on the French Creek Vineyard north of Prosser for Sleight of Hand at the end of August. Of the reds, Syrah is usually the first to be picked. The Red Heaven Vineyard on Red Mountain started picking yesterday. Then comes Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Rhone varietals. The slow ripening Cabernet Sauvignon is usually the last to get picked.
After one of the warmest Augusts on record, temperatures have abated to normal levels with highs in the 70's and forecast for the next ten days. Hardly any rainfall is predicted as well. This will allow grapes to ripen gradually and evenly, ideal conditions for a successful harvest which will be in progress through September and October.
Updates will be posted on this blog during the coming weeks.