- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Oregon winemakers are toasting the 2014 grape harvest, done under unusually dry conditions that produced abundant yields.

“This year has been a Goldilocks,” said Michelle Kaufmann, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Wine Board. “Not too cold, not too hot and not too much rain.”

Oregon winemakers, particularly in the Willamette Valley, sometimes battle rainy harvests that damage quality and quantity, as they did in 2013.

“Oregon is known as a challenging place to grow grapes,” said Lorne Mews, vice president at Benton-Lane Winery near Monroe in Benton County. “This year was kind of an easy vintage. We picked when we wanted and we picked earlier than ever before. The season just cooperated extremely well.”

The upshot, some growers told the Eugene Register-Guard (https://bit.ly/1swS9Gm), is that growers will have to work to keep prices up for their premium wines, and consumers could see some bargains in bulk wines and what are known as secondary labels, especially as wineries try to move inventory to make way for new wine.

A number of vineyards and wineries in the Willamette Valley, including Benton-Lane, said that not only are they anticipating the quality of wines made this year will be higher than usual, so is the yield.

“I’m really pleased and happy for this harvest,” said JP Valot, winemaker at Silvan Ridge Winery, who said their yield is about 25 percent higher than normal. “I’m excited as a winemaker and wine drinker.”

The Wine Board’s 2014 Harvest Report is a first look at the harvest, compiled from grower and winemaker assessments.

Some southern Oregon growers reported yields stunted by a December freeze that damaged plants. A freeze also affected the Columbia Gorge. But the assessment that the season was dry, warm and favorable for grapes was widespread.

Kaufmann said the wine board hopes to release an updated report on the industry in January.

She said it will show more growth in Oregon winemaking: more than 200 new wineries since 2010 and more than 500 acres of new vineyards planted just in southern Oregon.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com


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