Postponed for weeks due to the fact that of the cool, wet spring, white wine grape growers in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley have been hustling to get this year’s vintage collected before the cold weather sets in.A team of about 10 people were choosing sauvignon blanc grapes Thursday at Lindsay Creek Vineyards located at 3107 Powers Ave. The harvest so far is greater than in 2015’s, said Kelsie Dyell, assistant wine makers at Lindsay Creek.
“Last year, we had days in the 100s (degree variety) for a month straight,” Dyell said. “This year, it had to do with a week and because of that, lower temperatures, it developed a longer growing season.”
Balancing the sugar content of grapes that are affected by the weather is the wine maker’s art. Dyell stated it appears this year’s sugar levels are about where she desires them to be.
“Heat makes the sugar levels increase but if it gets over 100 (degrees) the plant begins to shut down,” she said. “We desire the heat, but we do not want it to be too hot.”
Dyell said she hopes the grape harvest will be nearly total within 2 weeks. Then begins the gradual process of fermenting the grapes into wine.White wines
take about 6 months to establish and Dyell said the current harvest should be prepared for the spring release in April or May. Red wines take longer– 2 to 3 years– to age correctly in oak barrels. White wines are aged in stainless steel.The total volume of white wine grapes “is a little bit lower this year because of the cold spring. But we have not had as hot temperatures this year as in 2015, so otherwise we’re looking pretty good,” Dyell said.The Lewis-Clark Valley American Viticultural Area was designated in 2016 and is home to 16 wineries and 20 varietals. The first grapes planted in Idaho were grown in Lewiston in 1864, which had a flourishing wine industry until Prohibition stopped it.These days, the designated area encompasses 479 square miles with 100 vineyard acres planted in Idaho and Washington.Rick Wasem, co-owner of Basalt Cellars, has actually been growing white wine grapes and producing white wines because 2003. Wasem and his crew were collecting about five lots of grapes Thursday for a total harvest this year of about 25 heaps.”That’s a little light for us but that’s okay, we’re getting a little older,”Wasem said.Average harvests are about 30 tons of grapes a year, he included, however the most significant haul was 46 to 47 tons.This year was unusual in other methods.” A great deal of the grapes are normally done flowering by
the 2nd week in June,”Wasem said.” This year, some varietals weren’t done till the 4th of July which’s three weeks late. Which’s how things are coming in.”Wasem said grapes that have not yet completely ripened might not get there if the weather condition turns cold. Because case, he said, he may have to harvest some of the red grapes and process them to produce rose white wines. “There will be a great deal of roses this year around the Columbia valley,”Wasem stated.” We’ll just see what occurs. We may be making ice wine if we get a genuine cold snap in a couple of months.