Washington’s 2021 wine grape harvest was marked by record-breaking heat during the growing season, resulting in low yields of high-quality fruit. The Washington State Wine Commission’s annual Grape Production Report shows 179,600 tons of wine grapes were harvested in 2021, just slightly more than the previous year.

“Both 2020 and 2021 were small harvests, but unlike the previous year where a myriad of factors contributed to a smaller harvest, in 2021 there was really one major factor that impacted yield size across the state—the historic heat event in June,” explained Steve Warner, President of the Washington State Wine Commission.

Growers reported that vineyards fared well overall during the extreme heat that hit the region in late June, but those record temperatures contributed to a reduction in berry size and cluster size. The rest of the growing season continued to be warm, and 2021 is considered to be one of the warmest vintages on record.

“Though a very warm year, temperatures did cool down to allow for extended ripening through September and October,” Warner said. “Our winemakers and growers reported the overall quality of the fruit to be fantastic with great flavor and concentration.”

Cabernet Sauvignon has been Washington’s most produced variety since 2015, and this year it came in at 50,865 tons, 28% of the total. Chardonnay was second at 25,675 tons or 14% of the total. Riesling, Merlot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc rounded out the top six, which altogether equated to 84% of the crop. Though the total crop was up only 1% over 2020, several varieties fared well during the heat event, specifically Syrah which grew by 15% and Sauvignon Blanc which grew by 8%.

Farmers received an average of $1,460 per ton, a decrease of $35 from the previous year. Mourvèdre received the highest average price per ton at $2,447.

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