'Near-perfect' wine harvest this year in Wash. state, experts say

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Kids are back in school, the rain has returned - and that means it's time for workers to descend on the region's vineyards.

And the predictions for this year's harvest throughout the Northwest are very positive.

“It’s just been a near-ideal, near-perfect growing season,” says Steve Warner, president of the Washington Wine Commission.

“It’s looking like another good vintage,” echoes James Osborne with Oregon State University's Wine Research Institute.

The grape harvest is just getting underway, and while it may be too early to predict the volume of fruit, Warner is convinced that the quality will be high.

"All the things they look at, like acidity in the grape and the sugar content,” Warner says. “So far, everything just looks right on track. As far as quality, what we’re hearing is 'all thumbs up.'"

But what about all that wildfire smoke? Did that impact our vino? Both Warner and Osborne say it’s a little early to tell, but that most of the smoke was high, and didn’t really impact the grapes. Warner adds that in some instances, the smoke actually keep vineyards cooler, which kept vines producing.

If your taste favors a craft beer, we have good news for you as well.

“Looks like it’s going to be a good, average harvest,” says hop farmer Drew Gaskell. “Quality looks to be pretty good. Some pest pressure, but in general it should be really high quality.”

The Yakima Valley is alive with the smell of hops, and the harvest there is in full swing. This one spot is where 75 percent of the country’s hops come from, and this year’s haul is estimated to be 77 million pounds - which is slightly less than the 2017 hop harvest.

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