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Pacific Northwest Swelters

It’s not so much of a heat wave as it is a suffocating blanket. Until yesterday, 14 July, the Walla Walla Valley in Eastern Washington State had a record-breaking 15 out of 16 days of temperatures above 100 °F/38 °C, with two days in a row topping out at 111 °F/44 °C.

‘That’s the longest stretch of heat I’ve ever seen’, says Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery, who has been making wine in the area since 1975. ‘It’s really dramatic and continues to amaze all of us.’

Brandon Moss, partner and assistant winemaker at Gramercy Cellars has a different word for it. ‘It’s wild, man’, he laughs with the sort of laugh reserved for things that really aren’t that funny. ‘We’re getting no relief. I grew up in this valley my whole life. We always have a day or two over 100, but it’s just a day or two, and it’s usually in the last three weeks of August. To see this heat in late June and early July, it’s kind of unusual.’

A bit further to the south in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, oven-like conditions have also been at work, though with slightly lower temperatures.

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