After a record 2016 grape harvest, what's ahead for the Washington wine industry for 2017? Some changes have already taken place, some will be announced in the new year. These will be the topic of next week's blog.
Now, here are my predictions for 2017:
More Consolidation and Ownership Changes
The buyout of the McClellans' Seven Hills Winery by the Crimson Wine Group of California signaled a growing interest by outside investors in Washington wineries. There will be more investments and mergers ahead in the future.
More Small Wineries
This year saw the launching of new wineries such as The Walls and Aluvé in Walla Walla, Tetrahedron in the Columbia Gorge, Co Dinn in the Yakima Valley and others. More will be on the way.
More New AVAs
In the past couple of years, we've seen new American Viticultural Areas come into being - The Rocks of Milton-Freewater, Ancient Lakes and the Lewis-Clark Valley. Candidates for new AVAs include the Frenchman Hills near Othello, The Royal Slope near Royal City, and the South Ridge of the Walla Walla Valley, from the Ferguson Vineyard (L'Ecole No. 41) to Southwind (Cadaretta) to McQueen (Doubleback) whose basaltic wind blown terroir is highly distinctive.
More Growth in Seattle Wineries
South Seattle has become a Mecca for wineries and tasting rooms, a boom that has been propelled by Charles Smith's large new facility in Georgetown. There will be more to come as wineries explore new opportunities.
More Respect for Washington Wines
Last, but not least, of these predictions is more press and interest in Washington wines. Articles such as the Wine Spectator write-up on Cayuse is evidence of this. Watch for increasing interest in Washington state wines and ones from the contiguous cross border AVAs.
More Later! Happy New Year!