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Harold Thoreen and Suzanne Haggard, WSU France Wine Regions Trip

Harold enjoys drinking wine and has been a wine enthusiast since the early 1970s. Suzanne enjoys working with plants. Blending their two passions, it made sense for them to join others in a partnership to plant a vineyard along the Columbia River, not far from Chelan, Washington. This area is a new frontier for wine growing and the number of new vineyards are rapidly increasing.

In 2002 they helped plant a vineyard and have been adding to it over the years. Now they have 25 acres of vines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Viognier, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Harold particularly like the Viognier coming out of the vineyard. The vineyard replaced an apple orchard. Neither Harold or his partner had a viticulture background. Harold is impressed with the other growers in the area; they help each other. With Suzanne’s interest in plants, onbe will often find her in the vineyard.

There are many challenges with grape growing. In 2012 a fire covered 7,000 acres and was finally tamed at the front edge of their vineyard thanks to a group of fire fighters. They lost several hundred Cabernet Sauvignon plants; however, those plants sent up shoots this year and are doing fine.

Harold is nearing retirement from his current job and is considering getting more involved in the vineyard. He is considering enrolling in the Washington State University Viticulture and Enology program. As the vineyard is maturing the tonnage is increasing. The harvested 62 tons of grapes in 2012. Most were sold to area wineries and a few were kept back for making a couple barrels of wine. Susanne summed up their wine journey as a “pleasure and an opportunity to learn a whole new world of information.”


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