Hot Blazing Mountains of Fire; Theories Based on Smoke

June saw no rain.

July saw less.chelan

Then the fires started.

Wenatchee, Walla Walla and Lake Chelan all experienced thousands of acres in flames.  June was a one in 400 year heat spell and quantifiably the hottest in recorded history.  July was not far off.

All one can say for 2015, is “A” for consistency.  Growing degree days prior to April 1st were quadruple the average.  Quadruple.


Sunburn on poorly tended vines will be a major issue.  Leaf canopies that were pulled up too late in the season run the risk of exposing fruit to extreme heat and sun, resulting in burn and thus poor color in the wines as well as flavor issues and ageability potential for wines that would otherwise be cellering wines.

wsu graph

Smoke taint should not have affected many of the vines yet because they aren’t far enough along in maturity to absorb that taint- they aren’t through veraison.  But if we don’t get any rain in August, we’re begging for another fire, and that will be a season to contend with.

wenatchee fire

Acids tend to sweat out in heat, but one interesting thing that we found in 2014 was that if you start hot, stay hot and finish hot, there are no cool dips to juxtapose against heat spikes.  Your vines re-calibrate and acids to flee as much as they do post heat spiking.  If you just start the season at a different plateau, as in 2014 and 2015, it may be that your acid retention, at least for earlier ripening stuff, isn’t compromised too greatly.  We did start to see fatigue in later ripening varieties in 2014 and I can only imagine that 2015 will show the same.

Everything looks to be 3-5 weeks early, but the absolute extreme heat has slowed that down.  Past a certain point, the vines get too hot to thrive.  Ironically, if we stay in the 100’s and 90’s for temperatures, it may just result in the date catching up to the vine.

Then again, if we get 3 weeks of 55 degrees or 10 days of rain, it’s a totally different season.  Nature. Sheesh.

Stay Cool, Ashley