El Niño bringing confidence to wine growers for the season - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

El Niño bringing confidence to wine growers for the season

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The rainy days have been helpful to the crops. The rainy days have been helpful to the crops.

BENTON CITY, WA- Washington wine growers feel confident the season will be a good one, especially since the El Niño has brought a lot of rain and snow to the area. 

The rain has been a good thing for wine growers on Red Mountain and the rest of the region.

"Right now, it's turned out quite well.  The earlier predictions were quite scary," said Dick Boushey, Vineyard Manager.

The year of the El Niño has brought a large snowpack, lots of rain, which was the opposite of last year.

"It's like we went from one extreme to the other," said Boushey. 

Last year, grape growers struggled to keep their crops alive.  They got damaged during the winter and endured a hot, dry summer.  This year, the many days of rain have helped.  

"The rain is never a bad thing when you're farming in a desert," said Boushey.

This past Winter did not damage the crops. The extra moisture was good for the soil.  It also delays how early growers will have to tap into irrigation wells this year. 

"We tapped into the wells more than we'd like to and we drained all the reservoirs up on the mountains.  We really needed this winter moisture," said Boushey.

Another positive is that the crops are not too far ahead of normal.  Last year the crops were too early, which caused a greater risk for heat damage. 
"This year it's going to more of a normal year.  These vines are a lot healthier.  Hopefully we won't have the heat that we had last year.  We're starting out under very good conditions," said Boushey.

They even expect the size of the crop to be a lot bigger.

"If we could just have a normal year, we'd probably have one of the biggest grape crops we've ever had coming up," said Boushey.

Although the season is still early and the weather can change at any moment, some wine growers are confident this season will be a lot better than last year.