Favorable weather and an increase in plantings brought a 5.5 percent increase in the harvest of cabernet, merlot, riesling and other varietals, said Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers.
"Mother Nature smiled on Washington state once again this year and provided an ideal climate for grapes," Scharlau said. "She provided us with a fast start, a slow middle and a long finish to produce a vintage to remember."
The quality of the grapes also was strong, growers said.
"The grapes got as ripe as we wanted and the color was really good for the reds. The wines are going to be really good," said Scott Williams, winemaker at Kiona Vineyards & Winery on Red Mountain near Benton City.
Final reports on new plantings from the state Department of Agriculture won't be available until next year, but the area devoted to premium wine grapes has grown about 11,000 acres in 1993 to 31,000 last year.