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CONCRETE, Wash. - Dan Costanti loves this dry weather. Monday marks the 43rd day in a row at Sea-Tac with no measureable rain. While some places around the state, including Concrete, have seen a shower or two, Costanti said it s had little impact.

Dry is good, he said.

Why does Costanti love dry weather in August and September? Because he is part owner in a small vineyard named Challenger Ridge. And dry weather puts his Pinot Noir vines under some stress - a good stress that tends to boost the sugar content of the grapes and that could result in a very good vintage.

Just the opposite was happening early in the season. It rained - a lot. June and July were very wet, and that s not good for the grapes. Some bunches have a mix of large grapes and tiny ones, a sign of that wet influence. But since things finally changed over in late July, the season has improved dramatically for Challenger Ridge.

There s plenty of fruit, because of the good growing season we ve experienced so far, said Costanti.

But the season isn t over yet, and it s running about two weeks behind because of that wet start.

September, October are critical to where we want to be, said Costanti.

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