Wet weather hasn't dampened outlook for Okanagan vineyards

Okanagan grapegrowers are managing excessive canopy growth caused by June rains in the valley. Now they're looking for an extended run of heat and sun.
Okanagan grapegrowers are managing excessive canopy growth caused by June rains in the valley. Now they're looking for an extended run of heat and sun.

It hasn’t been the perfect year, weather-wise, for Okanagan grape growers but in spite of that, growers are optimistic it should still be a good year for the industry.

Naramata’s Pegasus Vineyard’s Ralph Suremann says vine or ‘canopy’ growth has been fast growing this year due to the wet June.

“We’ve done lots of extra spraying, with short windows in between, for mildew prevention. I think we are still a couple of weeks behind in terms of average growing degree days, but hopefully we can catch up in August,” Suremann says.

With a forecast now calling for sun and some 30 Celsius weather, Suremann says it’s just what Okanagan vineyards need.

“Things are looking promising weather-wise over the next two or three weeks, and hopefully it will stay that way. If it’s not too hot, or not too cold, we should be in good shape,” he says.

Suremann says he will likely have to hedge the vines twice this year to keep up with their excessive growth.

Fruit set was good this year and Suremann is looking at an average crop size for his mixed vineyard containing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Pinot Blanc, and Foch.

“So far, I’m happy with the way things are going,” he says.

Kelowna's Summerhill Pyramid Winery winemaker Michael Alexander says it’s been a little cooler and wetter than grape growers were looking for, but with some heat, the crop should catch up.

“We’re about a week behind on the vines. I don’t think it will be an early harvest this year, but that’s okay,” he says.

Alexander says mildew was a concern with all the moisture, but says the vines have stayed clean.

“We definitely saw a lot of green this year. but we kept up with the sprays. We’ve managed the canopy by hedging, which forces the plant to focus on the fruit,” he says. “Fortunately we can control it. We’re normally turning the irrigation on this time of year, but we don’t have to do that this  year. The upcoming weather looks good for the vines, and for us.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to tips@infonews.ca and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.