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2012 Oregon wines expected to garner critical acclaim

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BEAVERTON, OR (KPTV) -

The warm, sunny weather recently has kickstarted the growing season - and among the farmers excited about the progress are those who grow wine grapes. 

But they have much more to be excited about after last year's growing season. In fact, the 2012 vintage of Oregon wine is expected to garner critical acclaim.

This applies to the red wines especially, where varieties like pinot noir are expected to sell out even though they're not even in the bottle yet.

"The warm weather we've received in the past few weeks has really gotten vines off to a really strong start," said Charles Humble with the Oregon Wine Board. "And that's always very, very helpful."

This helpful head start is considered a rarity in Oregon.

"I think that makes people more optimistic about what the rest of the year will hold," Humble said.

That optimism is tempered by the reality that winemakers have no control over the elements.

"You're at the mercy of whatever the weather will bring," said Laurel Dent, with Ponzi Vineyards in Beaverton.

Regardless of what this season brings, wineries all over the region are still celebrating the crop the weather brought them last year.

"I think it's being hailed as an epic vintage," Dent said.

The 2012 white and blush wines are already in tasting rooms.

The highly-anticipated reds, namely pinot noir, will start to be bottled in the fall, but the experts have already dubbed them exceptional, according to Charles Humble.

"They take samples out, and they taste them, and they know," Humble said.

"You'll get really nice balance, beautiful acidity, um, gorgeous fruit notes," said Dent, of what to expect from the vintage. 

"That 90-some days of no rain was mostly marked because it was just dry, not necessarily warm, and it gave the grapes a chance to really grow and sweeten properly," said Humble about the growing season that produced what he expects will be celebrated wine.

Humble said the growing season of 2012 was even better than 2008, which produced what many consider the vintage of the decade for Oregon wine. 

"Obviously the critics picked up on 2008, and we got some great press out of that. That's been long-lasting," Dent said.

Winemakers contend that all their vintages are good, but many still hope a banner year enhances Oregon's reputation.

"A lot of people are still discovering Oregon wine, and it never hurts to have a lot of people who know what they're talking about saying what you're doing is right," Humble said.

Many wineries will be holding open houses later this month over the Memorial Day weekend. Some will offer tastings right from the barrel.

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