Washington’s wine grape harvest grew by 14% in 2018, for a grand total of 261,000 tons crushed. This was the second largest harvest in Washington’s history, behind the record-breaking total of 270,000 tons in 2016.
‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ was again the top producing variety at 74,400 tons or 29% of the total, as noted in Washington State Wine’s annual Grape Production Report.
‘Chardonnay’ was the second-largest crop at 41,500 tons or 16% of the total, while ‘Merlot,’ ‘Riesling,’ and ‘Syrah’ rounded out the top five. The top-three red varieties combined showed a 10% compound annual growth rate over the last five years and several varieties had record-breaking years in 2018, most notably ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ and ‘Syrah.’ In total, red varieties accounted for 59% of the crop.
A fairly warm spring was followed by a very warm summer, but temperatures cooled considerably in September creating a long harvest season and ideal conditions for ripening.
Farmers received an average of $1,213 per ton in 2018, which was an increase of $7 over the previous year. ‘Petit Verdot’ was the most expensive grape for the second year in a row.