The 2017 wine grape harvest had big shoes to fill, coming right after a record harvest. And while the tonnage reported a year-over-year decrease, officials with Washington State Wine said the 2017 crop was an excellent year.
Figures show last year’s harvest totaled 227,000 tons, down 16% from the 2016 record harvest of 270,000 tons. While a year-over-year drop, the 2017 harvest was slightly larger than 2015.
Cabernet Sauvignon was the top producing variety grown at 62,200 tons or 27% of the total, followed by Chardonnay at 39,300 tons or 17-percent of the total. Riesling (33,000 tons), Merlot (32,700 tons) and Syrah (20,800 tons) rounded out the top five. In total, red varieties accounted for 57-percent of the total production.
Growers received an average of $1,198 per ton in 2017, which was in increase of $41 over the previous year. Petit Verdot clocked in at the most expensive grape, receiving the highest average price per ton at $1,700.
“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,” explained Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine. “In addition, wine is an agricultural product so normal variations in weather and environmental factors impact the crop every year.”
Although a smaller crop, winemakers and wine grape growers are thrilled with the quality of the 2017 fruit. “The growing season started off cool, warmed up nicely throughout and then cooled off again toward harvest time,” Warner explained, “which created near-ideal conditions for wine grapes.”
Washington State is still in a period of tremendous growth, as the compound annual growth rate of all grapes grown and wine sold in the state shows steady growth at 5.4-percent over a 10 year period. The number of winery licenses in the state recently surpassed 940, and wine grape acreage has grown 18-percent in five years.
“Washington State wine is a greater than $5 billion industry with a growing global presence,” Warner said. “We expect much growth in the years to come, as new vineyard plantings start to produce fruit and our wineries continue to gain traction around the world.”
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