Grape Growers Raise a Glass to the Summer Heat

<p>Grapes</p>

Grapes

Tony Haralson of Anto Lin Cellars is in for a busy week; his grape harvest begins Friday.

By next week, the empty bins in his wine cellar will be packed with thousands of pounds of grapes, ready to be processed into his signature wine.

"It's looking absolutely beautiful this year; nice ripe fruit coming along, we just had a really nice warm season," said Haralson, "We're looking at a really nice quality crop this year."

Thanks to the weather lingering in the high 90's for a large portion of the summer, Haralson expects to harvest up to three and a half to 5 tons of grapes to the acre depending on the type of wine grape.

Haralson says grapes, unlike other crops, aren't really affected by the extreme heat.

In fact, this summer's hot weather has allowed them to mature much faster, prompting them to begin harvesting almost two weeks ahead of schedule.

"Our grapes ripened up much quicker, and we don't have to hang them as long, which means less pressure [from] birds and disease and things like that," said Haralson.

In a business that takes it's chances with Mother Nature, Haralson hopes for more seasons like this to bring more emphasis to the Yakima Valley's wine country.

"I think that drives us forward in the industry and in the world," said Haralson, "Once we can produce a crop like that, which will produce a fine wine, that will drive the focus on Washington much more that way."