B.C. vineyards are positioned for another good growing year - InfoNews

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B.C. vineyards are positioned for another good growing year

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June 24, 2019 - 8:00 AM

With warmer weather setting in, tourists are just starting to trickle into the Okanagan valley and glasses of the region’s finest wines are being poured.

As the valley's guests start getting their bearings, this year’s crop is also getting established. 

“We’re just through bud break and it’s been cool, which is good,” said Miles Prodan of the B.C. Wine Institute.

Although it was a drier May than usual, Prodan said the dampness is important to vines, allowing them to get started. So far, he said, everything is looking positive, though only time will tell with Mother Nature.

It’s a different set of conditions from last year’s crop, when winter’s heavy snowfall led to floods by the spring, according to the 2018 Okanagan summary put out by the wine institute.

“A cool spring resulted in a slightly later than average bud break. The snow runoff resulted in high levels of soil moisture which meant that many vineyards didn’t have to irrigate all spring but resulted in lots of natural vigor in the vines,” the summary noted.

The vigorous growth made for intensive canopy management and high powdery mildew risk meant growers were kept very busy during the spring.

By the time of flowering, the vintage had caught up and was back close to average timing with warm temperatures and dry conditions allowing for ideal flowering conditions and the potential for a large crop. 

The wildfire smoke that rolled into the valley for two to three weeks as summer hit its peak wasn’t the worst thing to have happened, either.

It caused extensive blocking of sunlight which slowed photosynthesis and delayed development with veraison occurring up to a week later than average in some areas.

Vineyards in the South Okanagan Valley and Similkameen Valley saw more delays than vineyards further north resulting in harvest times for different vineyards and varieties differing from their normal pattern.

The cloud cover from the smoke did mean the vines were not subject to the intense summer sun and the usual heat stress resulting in berry size and cluster size being heavier than usual and contributing to a large crop.

“Pristine fruit that had ample hang-time is the hallmark of our vintage,” says David Paterson, Winemaker and General Manager at Tantalus Vineyards.

“There was time to develop great flavour intensity while retaining lightning acidity. These wines will go down as classics I think. They have initial yumminess with amazing aging potential. A great vintage.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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