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Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2011

Oregon wine industry warming up to 2011 vintage

PORTLAND — The Oregon Wine Board issued a report today that shows growing optimism for the 2011 vintage.

The OWB surveyed grape growers throughout the state. They reported warm late summer days and the absence of precipitation over the Past two months has created more confidence for this fall's harvest.

Growers reported they have largely caught up from a late spring start. Some are projecting their largest yield in nearly a decade. Good weather during flowering and set were keys to those estimates.

While some regions may planning to begin the first week in October, but most won’t get under way until the middle of October.

While degree days trailed 2010 through July, they have exceeded last year in August and September, especially in the northern Willamette Valley. Precipitation has been lower than 2010 since the middle of July in all regions of the state.

According to the Climate Prediction Center, the forecast through the rest of September is for average temperatures and a higher probability of some precipitation. The 90-day CPC forecast shows seasonal conditions with temperatures remaining near average and the probability of precipitation increasing.

In the Willamette Valley, the harvest of the state's most famous wine grape -- Pinot Noir -- is trending later than normal, but if the forecast for warm weather through the end of September holds true, it could be advanced.

In 2010, the growing season not only got off to a late start, but there also were fewer warm days in August and September to compensate.