Winter affects wine production in Walla Walla

Grapevines hardended and buds damaged by cold

Rick Small has owned Woodward Canyon Winery in Walla Walla for over thirty years, and though he says this season wasn’t the worst winter he’s seen, the cold temperatures did affect wine production.

“If you’re growing wine grapes and making wine in Washington state or Walla Walla, this is part of the deal,” says Small. “If you don’t like it…you can’t be here.”

Small says the Walla Walla Valley experienced frigid temperatures that hardened the grapevines and damaged the buds. Merlot and Cabernet appear to be affected the most, but Small is hopeful he will be able to salvage enough to produce this season.

“We see buds killed in Merlot and buds killed in Cabernet, but we still think we can still prune around that to some degree and still wind up getting a crop,” says Small.

Winter affects wine production in Walla Walla

Grapevines are able to survive in cold conditions, but Small says they must be given time to adapt to the temperatures, gradually. This winter hit too fast, however, for some of the vines to acclimate properly. And even as the temperatures now heat up as Spring approaches, Small explains pests that survived the winter conditions are causing problems for his plants.

“I’m seeing insects coming out now that basically were totally insulated by all the snow and they’re going to be a problem to us already.”

Small says he will be delaying pruning for as long as possible, but began pruning Cabernet buds Monday morning.