Washington's state harvest has tentatively begun.

Grape growers in the state have already begun picking select white grape varietals, with the harvest set to move into top gear in the coming weeks. The Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers said yesterday (11 September) that this year's harvest should come in at around 123,564 tons.

"Overall, our growers are very optimistic about the crop year and the quality of this year's vintage," said Vicky Scharlau, the association's executive director. "Our growers judiciously managed water through the wet spring which created smaller berries on the reds but this was followed by good temperatures for growth. We really have had the perfect climate for wine this year."

Vineyard managers across the state are optimistic about the harvest. A mild, wet spring gave way to a consistently dry, hot summer, producing balanced canopies and smaller berries, the association noted.

"A warm summer like we've had means we'll have a fantastic crop this fall," said Jeff Gordon, chairman of the Washington Wine Commission and owner of Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards. "We're excited about the potential of this year's vintage for both red and white wine grapes. The crop looks extremely clean and consistent."

The association and commission will jointly issue a crush report once the harvest is complete.

Washington is the second-largest producer of wine in the US behind California. The state has more than 400 wineries, 350 wine grape growers and 30,000 vineyard acres.