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As grape harvests begin, will Merlot be the most common B.C. varietal again?

Pinot Noir grapes just about ready for harvest in an Okanagan vineyard. Pinot Noir is the fourth most grown grape in British Columbia with 2,634 metric tonnes grown last year.
Pinot Noir grapes just about ready for harvest in an Okanagan vineyard. Pinot Noir is the fourth most grown grape in British Columbia with 2,634 metric tonnes grown last year.

After a slow start to the growing season, Okanagan grape growers are finishing the year on a solid note as the 2020 crop ripens under the warm, sunny conditions that have pretty much defined this year’s September weather.

With picking of this year’s crop already underway, what are grape growers harvesting this year?

According to data from the B.C. Wine Grape Council, the top three red grapes grown last year in B.C. were Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Among whites, the top three grapes in the province last year were Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer, so it seems likely they will lead the way, or at least be up in the top tier this year as well.

Merlot will likely be the most harvested grape in the province overall this year, making up almost 18 per cent of the total tonnage of grapes picked during last year’s harvest.

Two white varietals make up the top three of the province’s most common grapes grown – Pinot Gris, at just under 12 per cent of the total tonnage picked, and Chardonnay, at 9.43 per cent.

Rounding out the top 10 grapes grown in B.C. along with their tonnage share are:

  • Pinot Noir 8.15 per cent
  • Gewurtztraminer at 7.05 per cent
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.04 per cent
  • Cabernet Franc, 5.7 per cent
  • Riesling, 5.63 per cent
  • Sauvignon Blanc, 5.35 per cent
  • Syrah, 4.48 per cent

B.C.’s 288 wineries produced 15,799.55 tonnes of red grapes and 16,535.64 tonnes of white grapes last year, with the Oliver area making up 48 per cent of total production.


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