Eastern Washington vineyards thrive in heat wave—here’s why!
PASCO, Wash. — A scorching heat wave moving its way through the state has a large impact on local agriculture. But one Tri-Cities vineyard said it hasn’t been a problem. They said for the most part, the heat is helping the wine harvest.
With high heats in the forecast, Lacey Lybeck, the manager of Sagemoor Vineyards assures us the grapes are thriving.
Lybeck said, “The vines are soaking up the hot temperatures and actually using this heat to stop growth and put all of the energy into those wine grapes that we’ll pick.”
So, what makes wine grapes different from other crops?
“As temperatures increase, the vines are able to use that sunlight in their photosynthesis to produce more sugars and concentrated flavors in the grapes,” Lybeck answered. “Those vines are able to really put all that sunlight to good use and concentrate that energy into the cluster development.”
Last year’s early heat wave, Lybeck said, brought an early harvest. With the late spring this year, she said they thought the vineyard would have a late harvest season. They said wine grape harvesting season begins in the end of August.
“We were expecting a really late season up until the end of June and then once we started seeing these warm days. Now it’s putting us kind of right on track to have a harvest that is more moderate,” Lybeck said.
Lybeck said wine grapes typically thrive in about 95 degree weather. She said not is all lost, even though the temperatures will reach triple digits. She said the leaves become an umbrella to protect Sagemoor’s 350 acres of grapes during times of high heat.
“They’re protected underneath that nice layer of leaves to keep them cool,” Lybeck said.
She did say there are some varieties of wine grapes that don’t enjoy the heat as much, such as Sauvignon Blanc and white varieties. She said reds tend to do great in the heat.
Even if we might not be enjoying the heat, the grapes at Bacchus and Dionysus Vineyard sure are.
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