Snapshots from Harvest in Washington State Wine Country

In Vineyards and Cellars

Snapshots from where wine comes from.

If you're a beginner at wine, you may think that vintages are just one too many details to pay attention to. And what difference does the year a wine was made in make, anyway? It seems like just a number on a label. But wine comes from farms, and when it's a hot year, those farms grow grapes that get really ripe (depending when you pick them) and in a cold year, the farmers wait and wait for them to get ripe enough...

When I was invited by the Washington State Wine Commission to check out Eastern Washington's grape-growing areas in mid-October, I figured the grapes would be picked already, and we'd probably be looking at stripped-bare vines and smelling the sweet, bready aroma of juice fermenting into wine in the cellar. But it's been cool in the Northwest—so cool that harvest was just beginning when I arrived. It's been a stressful season in wine country, to say the last. Check out my snapshots of the harvest in Washington State in the slideshow above, or read on for a few Washington State wine recommendations.

A Few Washington State Wines To Try

Seek out reds and whites from Walla Walla's Buty, especially the reds from their Phinny Hill Vineyard estate property. Rhone blends from Maison Bleue in Prosser shine—the Graviere, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, is especially delicious. Gramercy Cellars offers silky, polished wines—I especially liked the Lagniappe Syrah.

More Harvest 2011

Snapshots from the 2011 Harvest in the Finger Lakes, NY »
Sarah Chappell's Napa Harvest Diary »

About the Author: Maggie Hoffman is the editor of Serious Eats: Drinks and coeditor of Serious Eats: Sweets. You can follow her on Twitter @maggiejane.