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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho’s wine grape crop rebounds after 2015

A sample of Idaho wines from the annual Idaho Wine Competition on Sept. 22, 2015, at Ste. Chapelle Winery in Caldwell, Idaho. (Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman)
Associated Press

CALDWELL, Idaho – Idaho’s wine grape crop is rebounding after a small harvest in 2015.

A November 2014 freeze sharply reduced the amount of wine grapes available last year, but growers and vintners say the 2016 yields are 50 to 100 percent above last year’s, making the harvest slightly larger than normal, reported the Capital Press.

Some growers told the Capital Press that they won’t finish picking the remainder of the crop because they’ve already harvested plenty of grapes.

“Most of the wineries ran out of tank space,” said Ron Bitner, who owns Bitner Vineyards in Caldwell and let about 10-15 percent of his crop go to the birds. “I wish I could have got it all but I’m happy with what I got. I got more than I needed.”

Bitner said it wasn’t just an abundant harvest, but a flavorful one.

“All the numbers were good: acids, sugars, flavors,” Bitner said. “All the good things you want to have. It’s one of the best vintages I’ve had personally.”

Winemaker Martin Fujishin, the owner of Fujishin Family Cellars in Caldwell, said it took a lot of work for growers to get vines back in shape after the 2014 freeze, but things seem to have rebounded.

“It looks like all the growers bounced back pretty well and all the vines are coming back healthy,” Fujishin said. “This year, everything looks like it’s pretty much back to normal.”

The comeback has been aided by the weather, which has been favorable for grapes, according to Idaho Wine Commission Executive Director Moya Shatz-Dolsby.

“It was a great growing season; we weren’t hit with any sort of problems,” Shatz-Dolsby said.