Late but bountiful harvest for Okanagan and Similkameen vineyards – Keremeos Review
Fall harvest is in full swing for Okanagan and Similkameen vineyards after record warm temperatures in September caused reds and whites to ripen at the same time.
According to the Wine Growers of BC’s annual harvest release, the harvest saw high quality and quantity of fruit for 2022.
This high level of growth also combined with an unusual weather season to compress the harvest, which started three weeks later than in 2021.
“What we are seeing now is that generally what we call our early varietals, i.e. white wines, are late, but the late ripening varietals are showing up well and maturing at the same time” , said Charlie Baessler, the owner of Corcelettes Estate Winery in Cawston.
British Columbia grape growers noted that September hit a record number of growing days of warmer temperatures for ripening grapes.
It was a sharp turnaround from the start of the season, which saw cool, wet temperatures that cut growing days in east Kelowna by more than half in March, April and May, and a drop to 132 days compared to a 15-year average of 233 in the Similkameen Valley.
Although there were a few days of average temperatures in 2022, unlike 2021, heat stress did not hit during flowering. Rather, the supplement hit at the height of the growing season and helped set the plants in place after the cooler, wetter spring.
Now halfway through the harvest, the vineyards now face a different challenge; find room for all the high quality grapes that are maturing at the same time.
“You know, cellar space is another challenge as well,” Baessler said. “Many wineries will try to reverse the fermenters, which means a drawdown is taken up by early varietals and then becomes available again for later varietals, but as it’s a blanket approach this year, we have to settle.”
Other wineries in the Okanagan and Similkameen have also seen excellent harvests in 2022, and for some this is more of a return to form than a surprising new challenge.
“Although our harvest is a bit later than the average vintage of the last five or six years, it’s more like when we started growing grapes and making wine 20 years ago,” said John Weber. , owner of Orofino Vineyards. “While the start of this week is considered very late by recent standards, we’ve seen it before.”
British Columbia winemakers expect the high quality of the harvest to lead to a unique wine vintage for the year.
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