Niche varieties such as Chenin Blanc, Semillon and sparkling Lemberger Blanc de Noir — and the opportunities that could come with them — were on the menu Wednesday during the Grand Tasting event at WineVit, the annual conference of Washington’s grape growing industry in Kennewick, Washington, Feb. 5–7.
Inside the Toyota Center, participants sampled six wines, intended to mark a departure from the state’s traditional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as a panel of winemakers discussed them.
“To expand your mind,” Tyler Williams, winemaker at Kiona Vineyards and moderator of the panel, said in a follow-up conversation with Good Fruit Grower after the tasting.
The panelists discussed unique features of Washington wine, such as low alcohol content, ice wines and blending Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, as the industry looks to pivot away from abundant reds in the wake of cutbacks by the state’s largest winery, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.
In the nearby Three Rivers Convention Center, the final day of WineVit featured a Spanish-language session on viticulture plus sessions on grafted vines and production costs.
Trent Ball of Yakima Valley College told the audience about updates to the industry’s cost-of-production calculator. Ball and his colleagues have a beta version of the calculator available and are asking growers and wineries to try it out and provide feedback.
Find the calculator online at: https://rayv25.sg-host.com.
—by Ross Courtney