Growing Grapes in Washington

Washington is one of the largest producers of the Vitis vinifera varietal, ranking only second to California. The Washington premium wine industry is a $3 billion industry, with over 600 wineries and 30,000 acres of vinifera. The region is also the largest producer of Concord grapes, which are made for grape juice, jams, and jellies. The best Washington areas for wine are found in the western region of the state, where the climate is mild but has the largest amounts of rainfall in the entire world. Growing grapes in eastern Washington, on the other hand, requires careful irrigation because this area has hot summers and only a little rainfall. The climactic differences between the two regions are caused by the Cascade Mountain range that divides the state down the middle. The Cascades’ western slopes intercept most of the air pressure from the Pacific Ocean, confining most rainfall to western Washington. Grape planting in Washington commences in January up to March, followed by pruning in June to September. The grapes become ripe and ready for harvesting until November and are then fermented until as long as January. The most common variety grown in Washington are Chardonnays. Other varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.

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