Fall Okanagan Wine Festival set to follow unprecedented B.C. wine harvest

Image Credit: Contributed

KELOWNA - The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is delighted to announce the 35th annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival this autumn. This coming October 1-11, the festival is expected to attract over 20,000 visitors who enjoy more than 120 events throughout the Valley during the busiest time of year for British Columbia’s wineries, the grape harvest. The festivities kick off with the annual British Columbia Wine Awards Reception in Kelowna October 1 -- the oldest and largest British Columbia wine competition in the province, and wrap up Thanksgiving weekend with two new delectable Signature Events – Cropped… Presented by Valley First, British Columbia’s largest wine tasting and farmer’s market in Penticton, and a farm-to-table Sparkling Brunch in Osoyoos.

This year’s wine grape harvest began on August 12, 2015, a record early date for picking wine grapes in the province. The early spring and gloriously hot and sunny summer prompted British Columbia wineries that produce sparkling wines to the unprecedented early start, three weeks ahead of the customary picking time. With one of the warmest and driest springs and summers in the Okanagan, if the good conditions continue through autumn, some local winemakers are predicting 2015 will be the vintage of the century. British Columbia wines are also hot with consumers, with the total provincial market share for BC VQA wines for the first quarter of this year up 15.78% over the same period last year.

"At Okanagan Crush Pad, harvest began last week on August 14 with the arrival of Chardonnay grapes from our Secrest Mountain Vineyard in Oliver. Allocated for our sparkling wine program, the fruit looks exceptional, some of the best that we have seen over the years. The season has been hot and dry so we are seeing very little disease pressures which is fantastic given that all our growers are transitioning to organic farming. It is always a bonus when the season cooperates, but as we all know, these are early days," said Christine Coletta, owner, Okanagan Crush Pad Winery. "Hopefully the exceptional weather holds through the fall, both for a stellar vintage and for our wine touring visitors."

“We’ve been growing grapes since the 1970s and this is the earliest I’ve seen a harvest. It is one of those very rare years where everything has been near perfect valley-wide, with ideal ripening and flavour development in our vineyards from Osoyoos to Lake Country. Our biggest concern is that the red grapes will ripen the same time as the whites, creating significant bottleneck issues on our crushpad. This at least is one of the better winemaking problems to have, since you can always turn on the sprinkler but you can’t turn on the sun,” said Steven Heiss, owner & inventory manager, Gray Monk Estate Winery. “The phenomenal weather is also picture perfect for wine festival touring as we’ve found at our fall events like Wines, Vines & Vistas and at our restaurant, there’s nothing like Okanagan sunshine to bring out visitors from across the Pacific Northwest.”

New this year for the Fall Festival, is Cropped…Presented By Valley First, British Columbia’s largest wine tasting and farmer’s market on October 9 and 10 in Penticton, which replaces the Grand Finale Consumer Tasting.  A sensory and visual experience, guests will experience the sights, sounds and tastes of a farmer’s market with a “main street” of farmers, bakers and over 80 wineries, along with lively buskers performing a variety of musical styles.  Also on tap, the new Okanagan College Sensory Lab is conducting a Pinot Bar featuring Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. As well, fun and tasty educational seminars will be held by the Dairy Farmer’s of Canada. The largest Festival event in the Valley, Cropped is a Get Home Safe event.

Savour the terroir of the Okanagan’s iconic tastemakers with wine and culinary experiences for every palate.  A feast for the eyes as well as the senses, this bounty-filled region offers intimate settings with the chefs, winemakers, distillers, brewmasters and farmers that have not only built our craft industries but those poised on the leading edge of change.

Event and ticket information for the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival is available at www.thewinefestivals.com.

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