Northwest Wine Grape Scientists, Growers, Study Weather Extremes

Mar 3, 2017

Wine scientists and grape growers will converge in the Tri-Cities, Washington, next week to talk about how to produce high-quality wine when the climate is getting more extreme.

Like all other varietals, Grenache grapes really don’t like extreme heat. And last year, there were 17 record-high days east of the Cascades. The bulk of them fell early -- in April.

That challenged growers in a new way.

“Different grape varieties respond very differently to water and heat stress. And that’s something we’re learning more about right now,” said Thomas Henick-Kling, director of the wine and viticulture program at Washington State University.

In the spring, the grape leaves are tender and tiny fruit is swelling. That hot weather can slow down growth and development by stressing the plants. To avoid that, growers have to kick-in the water up to a day before heat hits.