Getting Thirsty for the 2019 Vintage

Posted by Idaho Wine Commission on Nov 5, 2019

Have you ever heard a wine lover talk about ‘vintage?’ That’s not code for an old bottle of wine (or pair of jeans). It refers to the year grapes were harvested.

That includes everything grapes might have encountered during the year they hung on the vine. Maybe it was extreme heat that stressed them out or a soggy spring that produced mildew. Even external disasters like fires can change the way wine tastes.

That year is important to note when you remember that we won’t drink the wine for a few years after the grapes are picked. The juice has to ferment, age in barrels and relax in bottles until it’s time to pop them open.

Starting in September, Idaho grape growers have been working hand in glove with area winemakers to determine just the right time to start picking grapes. But plummeting temperatures meant they had to hustle so harvest could wrap up before fruit turned into grape-sicles.

Now that harvest is finished Idaho vino pros are using a few key phrases to predict what 2019 Idaho wines will taste like.

Balanced. Structured. Higher Finesse.

These three abstract phrases that all mean the same thing: great. Each is a generous compliment for wine commenting on the sum of its parts. Flavor, aroma, acid, tannins, alcohol and texture come together to create a harmonious bottle that’s easy to enjoy. Bonus: Structured wines tend to age well.

Lower Yield.

Nature has healthy fluctuations. After a big harvest one year, the next is likely to produce a little less. The amount of fruit picked this year was a little lighter than 2018. But don’t worry—there will be plenty of wine to go around.

Lower Alcohol.

Grapes grown in cooler climates result with lower sugar levels (that’s Idaho after a summer of 90-degree days instead of triple digits). Less sugar means less alcohol in the finished wine. Lower alcohol doesn’t translate to lesser flavor—but it just might allow you to order a second glass.

If you can’t wait for 2019 wines—then don’t. Get to a winery now. Just because the vines are naked doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. Take in all the smells of harvest, talk to a winemaker about where they are in the process, and maybe even learn about how winemaking works. While you eagerly await the 2019 vintage, sip through some juicy new releases from 2017.

The Idaho Wine Commission can help get you there. Visit our events page to plan your next vino adventure.

Topics: Wine Education