Washington wine is growing!

Washington state’s wine grape harvest grew by 14 percent 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.

Washington State Wine’s annual Grape Production Report, compiled with information provided by all Washington State wineries, showed cabernet sauvignon was again the top producing variety at 74,400 tons or 29 percent of the total.

“Cabernet sauvignon is absolutely skyrocketing—its production has more than doubled in just six years,” said Steve Warner, President of Washington State Wine.

Chardonnay was the second largest crop at 41,500 tons or 16 percent of the total, while merlot, riesling and syrah rounded out the top five. The top three red varieties combined showed a 10 percent 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 percent 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.

“It cooled down just at the right time,” Warner said. “Our farmers and winemakers are thrilled with the quality of the 2018 fruit.”

Farmers received an average of $1,213 per ton in 2018, which was an increase of $7 over the previous year. For the second year in a row, petit verdot clocked in as the most expensive grape.

“Washington is still in a period of tremendous growth, with more than 970 wineries, 58,000 acres of wine grapes, and no sign of slowing down,” Warner said. “We’re excited to see how the 2018 wines come together—it could be a real blockbuster vintage for Washington.”