International expert says global warming good for Okanagan wines
By Adam Proskiw
CheckMate Winemaker Philip Mcgahan
Image Credit: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
January 07, 2016 - 6:30 PM
OKANAGAN - An Australian winemaker says in a CNBC opinion editorial that global warming is going to turn the Okanagan into the best wine region in the world in the coming years.
Philip Mcgahan starting making wine in in Hunter Valley, Australia in 2002. The area regularly reaches more than 40 Celsius and with temperatures climbing steadily higher in recent years, he has decided to make a move.
“I knew I had to move to a cooler region, so in 2007, I relocated to 38 degrees north of the equator to the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County,” Mcgahan writes. “Here I experienced first-hand the challenges California is facing with drought and dwindling water supplies.”
Mcgahan says temperatures in Sonoma County are also rising annually to the upper limits that vines will produce world class grapes.
“So I continued on my journey, moving more than 49 degrees north of the equator to the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia in early 2013. It is here where I have been involved in a secret project to harness the effects of climate change to make sophisticated wines at a new winery, CheckMate Artisanal Winery.”
Mcgahan writes that he found the Okanagan Valley to be one of the last regions in North America with a climate still ideal for viticulture.
“The Okanagan's latitude and length of day, and short, dry summer, with cool spring and autumn, make it ideal for cool climate varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. One of the great things up here is that in summer we get 18 hours of sunlight per day, which is actually 3 hours more than Napa. This results in more subtle flavors in our wines as the season is less protracted.”
In the article published Dec. 2, 2015, Mcgahan writes about the Okanagan’s “remarkable apples, peaches, cherries and apricots.”
“For the Okanagan Valley, climate change has increased the region's suitability to grow and ripen fruit, including grapes for wine production... research shows how the world's climatic band for wine making is shifting ever steadily north, favoring regions like the Okanagan Valley, with true cool climate viticulture, that can now produce competitive Chardonnays."
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