A Toast to a Record Harvest

<p>Grapes</p>

Grapes

Tony Haralson is hard at work preparing his wine grapes for bottling.

Last night, he crushed the juices out of these grapes and is now letting them sit before adding yeast and other ingredients.

This year's vintage will fill hundreds of bottles, all thanks to a record harvest.

"I don't think we expected it to be a record crop, but it was a really nice harvest," said Haralson, "It was perfect weather; solid, good, warm sunshine the whole way through, very consistent temperatures."

The Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers say almost 220,000 tons of wine grapes were crushed this year -- 30 more tons of red and white varieties compared to last year.

Growers also got a quicker start to harvest season, thanks to this year's unusually hot summer, which helped mature the grapes much faster than normal.

The weather, along with growers in the state expanding their fields, contributed to the record harvest.

But what happens when growers produces more grapes than their warehouses can store or work with?

Haralson says most growers in our region will outsource them to other winemakers across the country, so not a single grape goes to waste.

"We always try to utilize those grapes, it always hurts if you have something hanging out there," said Haralson, "If you do your research and you make those contacts as you go along in the business, you can definitely find those buyers and avoid that."

With an abundance of wine grapes, Haralson also says it allows him to experiment with his wines, and maybe come up with a new signature product for his customers.

"Instead of producing a larger quality of one type of wine, we'll just take it and experiment and do a rose or something, we're even looking at doing a port also," said Haralson.

Haralson says this year's wine grapes will take about two years to prepare and store before before the the wine they produce is ready to be sold to customers.