The Washington wine industry is in the process of learning about row orientation and matching aspect with variety. Sunburned fruit can be a problem in vineyards with north-south rows, especially those with westerly winds. But with many vineyards on a south-facing slope, it's difficult to plant in another direction without creating short point rows from a diagonal orientation.
Kevin Corliss of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates said they are experimenting with different row orientation and planted the same clone in three different angles at the Col Solare vineyard on Red Mountain. "We don't know yet if a diagonal orientation is worth the extra farming effort, but if you don't have to throw fruit on the ground because of sunburn, it may be worth it. I've seen up to a ton of fruit dropped in some vineyards because of sunburn."
At Col Solare, they are trying Malbec grapes in an east-west direction, while Syrah is planted north-south, he added.