Climate and Landscape Study Finds North Olympic Peninsula
Suitable to Grow Unique Grape Varieties for Quality Wine Production
Global warming effect will benefit region’s viticulture
Port Angeles, Wash., May 7, 2007 – City and county officials, grape growers, winemakers and local business people gathered in Port Angeles City Hall Council Chambers on Friday to learn the results of a $15,000 climate and landscape study performed to determine the Olympic Peninsula’s suitability for growing cool weather varieties of wine grapes. Dr. Greg Jones, a Southern Oregon University professor and research climatologist who has studied the impact of climate on the suitability of wine grape regions worldwide, performed the 9-month long study. Jones delivered his conclusion that the North Olympic Peninsula provides sound potential for cool climate viticulture, and the local wine industry should capitalize on the ability to grow unique grapes with a light, crisp, and aromatic style of wine that pairs well with the seafood of the region.
“A combination of all of the region’s viticultural suitability factors identified nearly 2,000 acres of agriculturally zoned land with topographic, soil and climate characteristics suitable for growing cool-weather grape varieties,” says Jones, “most of which are yet unfamiliar to this part of the world.”
Jones recommends that growers plant the following grape varieties:
White: Madeleine Angevine, Sylvaner, Siegerrebe, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Muller Thurgau, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer.
Red: Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Garanoir, Leon Milot, Agria, Regent, Marechal Foch, and others.
Further, he says that the area’s suitability for grape growing can only get better.
“Trends and projections in climate further indicate that the region’s potential will continue to improve with warmer daytime and nighttime temperatures, a longer growing season and greater heat accumulation. While other grape growing regions in the world will suffer from the impact of global climate change, the North Olympic Peninsula stands to benefit.”
The study examined the physical factors that influence a region’s suitability for grape growing, including matching a given grape variety to its ideal climate along with the optimum site characteristics of elevation, slope and soil properties. Jones identified the best landscapes within different suitable climate zones, and took land use zoning criteria into consideration.
The North Olympic Peninsula’s climate possesses moderate temperatures with few regional extremes because of its location relative to the ocean. Precipitation varies markedly across the region, but benefits tremendously from the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Many of the suitable areas experience only 15 to 30 inches of rainfall per year, compared to 15 to 200+ inches over the entire Olympic Peninsula.
Growing seasons across the most suitable areas in the region are typically longer than 180 days and experience minimal frost. Heat measures from 1400 to 2300 units during the growing period, which is appropriate for a range of early ripening varieties of grapes.
“The North Olympic Peninsula’s suitability for growing multiple varieties of cool weather grapes presents an interesting development for the wine industry in Washington and beyond,” says Jones. “People with vision will take advantage of the region’s proximity to a large market and the opportunity to introduce consumers to interesting new varietal wines.”
Kathy Charlton, owner of Olympic Cellars Winery in Port Angeles, concurs. Olympic Cellars spearheaded a successful community fundraising effort which made the study possible.
“It is our hope that the study will attract growers to the area, thereby raising the profile of the North Olympic Peninsula as a premium wine growing region and enhancing the region’s rich agricultural heritage through new vineyard plantings.”
Jones’ study, titled The Climate and Landscape Potential for Wine Production in the North Olympic Peninsula Region of Washington, was undertaken with assistance from Andrew A. Duff, Western Regional GIS/Data Support Specialist with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Key financial supporters include the Economic Development Council of Clallam County, The City of Port Angeles and Soroptomists Jet Set of Port Angeles, along with 52 additional contributions from individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and wineries.
To read Greg Jones full grape study report click the links below. This is a very large file with lots of graphics and maps, so for faster download we have broken the report into 3 parts. Files are all .pdf format.