Oregon grape crop hits delays

Pinot Noir grapes, Chehalem Ridgecrest Vineyard, Newberg, OR
From The Associated Press

PORTLAND, OR -- Winemakers around the state are coping with another late growing season as persistently cool spring weather delays the growth of the grape crop.

Oregon’s $1.4 billion wine industry has grown to more than 400 commercial wineries where managers try to balance the effects of weather that can range from cool and wet to hot and dry in short order.

At Seven of Hearts winery in Carlton, owner Byron Dooley said the cool early spring has set him back about two weeks from where he would like to be. If he’s jittery, it’s because the conditions are reminiscent of last year, when only an extended burst of sun in early October averted a wholesale washout.

"I always remind myself that it’s not what happens in June but what happens in October that’s most crucial," Dooley told The Oregonian. "But 2010 was the most white-knuckled vintage I’ve been through. I would love not to have to do that all again."

A late start to the growing season makes it difficult to ever fully catch up. And, when summer sunshine comes, unseasonable heat spikes can flood grapes with too much sugar, resulting in flabby, unbalanced wines.

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