Okanagan grape harvest on track for a good year | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan grape harvest on track for a good year

Things are looking good in Okanagan vineyards this year, in spite of an excessively wet spring and overly dry, hot summer.
August 10, 2017 - 7:00 PM

PENTICTON - Extreme weather this spring and summer doesn’t appear to be impacting the Okanagan’s vineyards.

Bench 1775 Winery’s Valerie Tait says it’s shaping up to be “a pretty effortless vintage” so far this year.

“After a very wet spring, with tremendous levels of growth, the hot, dry weather has been ideal for growing grapes,” she says.

The excessively wet spring has meant extra hours of labour in the vineyard, mainly to maintain the canopy, Tait says.

“We’ve had four times the normal number of labour hours in the vineyard this season in order to organize the canopy to ensure vine growth isn’t excessive, or shading the fruit,” she says.

The early moisture, combined with smoke particles in the air has increased the disease pressure on the vines, resulting in increased incidences of powdery mildew, but other than that, things are looking good.

“The harvest looks to be phenomenal, with white and red grapes ripening at different times between cooler Penticton and the hotter Osoyoos end of the valley,” she says, adding it looks now like the harvest times will have a gap between them.

The hot weather hasn’t been extreme enough to shut the vines down, as can happen if a vine can’t get enough moisture, Tait says.

“Grape vines evolved in hot, dry climates. Heat is a problem if a vine can’t be sufficiently irrigated,” she says, adding if white varieties get sunburned, they can lose their aromatics.

“The harvest is probably going to be early in the south and maybe a week sooner than normal in Penticton, north. The whites in the south will likely be early,” Tait says.

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