wine

Wild Yeast Can Transform Wine - With Some Risk

Aug 16, 2015

Winemaking is about more than just grapes. They need something else to ferment into alcohol: a microscopic fungus, yeast. People have been fermenting grapes for thousands of years using wild yeasts that grow in the vineyard. Researchers at Washington State University want to know more about these species.

As the 500-year-old bell tower tolls, about 25 students from the University of Oxford cross a medieval cobblestone street. They duck under a stone archway and slip into a room named after T.S. Eliot, who studied here a century ago.

The students drop their backpacks and get ready for practice. They're here to hone their tongues. This week, an elite team of Oxford's six best tasters will battle the University of Cambridge to see which group has the most refined palate.

Wine harvest is underway in a small growing region in southeast Washington called Red Mountain. The dusty wedge of earth has been attracting an increasing amount of investment from winemakers from Napa, Canada and even Italy.

Flickr Photo/Matthew Rogers

Washington State University’s viticulture and enology facility won’t open in the Tri-Cities until next spring, but students aren’t waiting to bottle and sell their own wines.

Northwest wine grape growers expect this week's cold weather to do some damage to their vineyards. But it’s not clear yet how much of next year’s fruit might be affected.

Early crop reports from farmers say Washington and Oregon’s wine grape harvest appears to be up a tick for 2013.

Wine grapes throughout the Northwest are ripening faster this year because of the hot dry summer. Vineyard managers and winemakers are preparing for a breakneck harvest over the next few weeks -- if it stays warm.

This year Eastern Washington had record-setting heat in July, while Oregon had consistently warm weather. Growers throughout the Northwest are hoping for cooler temperatures so the grapes don’t race to ripeness.

The prediction is for more wine, deeper colors and higher alcohol levels.

The Northwest is well positioned to make wine into the future despite global climate change. So says a scientist who presented his findings on climate change and wine at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. Monday.

Wine grape vines can be productive for decades. But how will climate change affect that? That’s the question Antonio Busalacchi, with the University of Maryland, sought to answer.