Weather & Wine

Thanks to its cool, moist climate, the Willamette Valley is renowned for its wines. But climate isn’t the only atmospheric condition that affects grapes grown for wine — weather, or atmospheric conditions in the shorter term, also changes grapes. For example, rain can dilute the sugar levels and flavors that accumulate during ripening. Weather also encourages or tamps down prospects for various pests and diseases. Greg Jones, a research climatologist at Southern Oregon University, provides us with weather conditions of a few notable growing seasons and the effect that weather had — or is having — on Oregon wines that season.

How Weather Affects Wine

Each year differences in weather affect the delicate wine grapes of Oregon. Here is a list of some recent — and current — years, their weather patterns and what to expect from these vintages.

The Year Was 2003

The Weather Was one of the warmest years in the past 20-30 years

The Wine Is full, fruit-forward, bold-styled wines

The Year Was 2008

The Weather Was moderate in terms of climate, ideal timing in terms of overall development

The Wine Is  highest-rated pinot noir in the past 15 years

The Year Was 2010-11

The Weather Was relatively cool in Oregon

The Wine Is many wines on the lighter side, with a more elegant, crisp, light-style wine

The Year Was 2013

The Weather Was very warm year followed by a big rain from typhoon remnants in September

The Wine Is good white wines expected; good reds  harvested before rainfall

The Year Was 2014 

The Weather Was very cold weather in early December ’13 and a dry year overall

The Wine Is smaller crop expected; potential for a good vintage