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Idaho's unusually hot and dry summer had an impact on wine grapes

Wine country dream job comes with free rent, 30 cases of wine and a salary of $10K per month
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Posted at 4:24 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 09:45:25-04

IDAHO  — It's the time of year where wine growers and makers get to see the fruits of their labor from all spring and summer long pay off.

"We picked three different vineyards this morning and pressed off one different lot," Earl Sullivan, Telaya Wine Co. Owner and Head Winemaker said. "This is the best time. The winery smells the best, we are dirty obviously from head to toe, but it is all in juice and the hard work we put together so it is a great time of year."

But, it hasn't been an easy year for them in Idaho.

We have seen an effect of the heat damage that happened throughout this brutally hot summer where even some of our vineyards here in Idaho were hotter than Washington," Sullivan said.

The long streaks of excessive heat created a few challenges.

"That tends to lead to a smaller berry size, which is reducing our yields," Sullivan said. "So, where we would normally get say 10 tons, we are getting 5 to 6 tons."

Smaller berries also make for a more difficult harvest.

"It makes it more of a technical harvest because we have less surface area to work with, which is where all the color and flavor is, but it also means we just have less wine and that is kind of the bigger challenge,” Sullivan said.

Although the heat affected the size of the grape, Sullivan says the good thing is it didn't affect the quality, especially for Syrah.

"Syrah did really well through the heat because of when it bloomed and how it developed," he said. "It was still a little bit smaller, but we still had a better yield than what we are seeing off some of the other varietals."

The smoke was also an issue, but for Idaho grapes, he says it shouldn't affect the taste.

"Most of the smoke we had come in from Oregon and California, it was really high and those fires were far away, so we really don’t see much smoke damage at all this year," Sullivan said. "It is not something we are concerned about, the heat was a much bigger issue for us."

Although it was a challenging year he says he's looking forward to sharing Telaya's creations with guests and wine members. Sullivan is also hoping for better conditions next year.

"Often the wise tale is that when you have a hard year the next year is going to be a rebound year, it's going to be a great year. So, I am really looking forward to next year," he said. "Hopefully, we won’t have this intense heat that we had this year if we have a nice wet winter and we can get into a really nice growing season next year."

Telaya also has a lot to look forward to. They just released their fall releases, they're offering Telaya Bites, and their new flagship blend just rolled out.

"We started making wine in 2008 with a Syrah-based blend. Turas is Irish for 'journey' so it was the start of our wine journey," Sullivan said. "That is our flagship blend and we just rolled it out, Best of 2019, and it is really smooth and easy drinking."

For more information on Telaya and their wine, click here.