Washington state winemakers optimistic as grape harvest looking good

A cool spring worried Washington's Columbia Valley winemakers and vineyard managers, but grapes are ripe for the picking and the state's wine industry is looking at another record harvest.

The challenges of a cool vintage can be mitigated with a few viticultural adaptations, said Dan Nickolaus, operations manager for Vigneron Management.

"If you can get everything ripe, cool years aren't bad," he said.

As Nickolaus walked among the vines Wednesday at Wallula Vineyard above the Columbia River south of Wallula Gap, he explained that periodically thinning out clusters allows more sunlight to get to the grapes.

"We don't want two clusters to touch," he said. "We had to thin down to lighter tonnages this year, but that's the sacrifice you have to make for quality."

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