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Wine grape growers should meet annually with their winemakers to review the year and discuss wine grape quality, says Dr. James Harbertson, Washington State –University Extension enologist.

While many wineries annually hold grower meetings, Harbertson encourages even small wineries to sit down with their growers to discuss how the grapes and wine turned out.

"A winery should be able to provide growers with several points of data, including color, pH, titratable acidity, alcohol percentage, and tannins [for red wines]," he said. But growers shouldn’t be embarrassed if they don’t understand what the data mean.

"A grower may need a third party to help interpret the data," Harbertson said, adding that he frequently receives calls from growers who are puzzled by wine analysis reports. "It’s hard to have a discussion with someone who knows more than you do," he said, referring to grower-winery discussions.

Harbertson provided the following questions that may be appropriate, depending on the wine, for growers to ask of the winemaker during the review:

  • • How is the wine made, what is the style and intended market? Is the wine –destined for bulk wine sales, used for blending, or a designation for a single vineyard?
  • What are the fruity components (smell and aroma) of my grapes?
  • Why is the alcoholic content in wine from my grapes so high? It may be that the grapes had a lot of green or vegetal flavors and needed to hang a long time.
  • Why is wine from my grapes so tannic tasting?
  • What type of oak is used?
  • What is the toasting level of the oak? (The toasting, which can cause some barrels to smell like creosote, contributes to the finished flavors.)