British Columbia grape harvest is in full swing and BC winemakers remain optimistic for this year’s vintage, touting moderate temperatures and excellent summer conditions have been particularly beneficial.
Despite a wetter than average September, winemakers are overcoming the challenges they are faced with right now crediting skilled vineyard management and embracing the lower sugars and alcohol levels they are seeing in the wines so far. “Every year presents challenges. For me, that’s part of the fun of it. Particularly as cool climate winemakers, adapting to the season is what we do,” notes Grant Stanley, Winemaker and General Manager at Spearhead Winery.
Stanley also credits the moderate climate throughout 2019 as particularly good for crops. “Without a doubt the moderate heat extending throughout the season has brought about grape ripeness without any sun burning or threat of over-ripeness. The yields have been similar to what we’ve seen in the past as well. We had a lot of small berries and good pulp to skin ratio which is perfect for making Pinot Noir. I’m really looking forward to the Pinot Noirs this vintage.”
In Osoyoos, where it’s markedly hotter than the rest of the valley, Chris Tolley, Owner and Winemaker at Moon Curser Vineyards says it was worrisome at first to see frost in September, but he is pleasantly surprised with the harvest so far. “We’ve had a very good season. Our whites, the Arneis and Viognier, were all quite ripe in both sugar and flavour. I’m happy so far with the reds as well. The Tempranillo came in really nice. I’m happy with the Malbec and Carmenere as well. We haven’t seen it all yet, but I’ve tasted the berries and I’m pleased with the quality.”
In the Naramata Bench, Kathy Malone, Winemaker at Hillside Winery is seeing lower sugars and alcohols in this year’s vintage which she is optimistic about. “I think vintage variation makes it more interesting for the wine drinker because they can look back at what was happening during that year and experience it through what they’re tasting in the glass. It adds an element of sophistication to the region.”
Susan Doyle, Vice President of Winemaking and Operations for Stewart Family Estates (Quails’ Gate Winery) is looking forward to a notable 2019 vintage, crediting skilled vineyard management with what she’s seen so far. “2019 has provided exceptional aromatic whites, chardonnay and fantastic Pinot Noir. We’ve seen early flavour development, great acidity and colour. The cooler spring and summer allowed slow even ripening in the grapes and we’re expecting lower overall alcohol levels. We haven’t seen disease pressure due to the skilled vineyard management of our team. We have brought in 92% of our fruit and we expect to be completed by end of October.”
Winemakers remain optimistic as they head into the last few weeks of harvest with many looking forward to lower alcohol levels and vibrant natural acidity for a fresh and elegant 2019 vintage.
To keep up-to-date on the harvest, follow @WineBCdotcom, #BCHarvest19 on Twitter & Instagram.
Quick facts about the BC Wine Industry:
- BC is home to 929 vineyards, including more than 370 licensed wineries
- There are more than 10,499 acres (4,249 hectares) of wine grapes planted in British Columbia
- BC’s grape wine industry has grown from just 17 grape wineries in 1990 to more than 280 today
- BC’s wine industry employs about 12,000 people and has an economic impact of $2.8 billion annually
- Each year, BC’s wineries welcome more than 1,000,000 visitors Wines of British Columbia Trip Planner offers visitors an interactive touring app with personalized itineraries to explore the character of each wine region
About British Columbia Wine Institute:
Since 1990, the BCWI has played a pivotal role in taking BC’s wine industry from a vision to an internationally recognized niche region producing premium wines and providing exceptional wine tourism experiences. The BCWI markets the wine and regions of BC; delivers quality trade, media and consumer tastings; and acts as the voice of BC’s wine industry by advocating to government on behalf of industry that contributes $2.8 billion in provincial economic growth annually.
The BCWI represents all wineries in British Columbia to grow the premium market share for the Wines of British Columbia, while driving awareness of our world-class wines and tourism product – currently drawing 1,000,000 visitors with $600 million in tourism and tourism employment related economic impact every year.
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Media release provided by Carie Jones, Wines of British Columbia. Feature image: Wine BC