With the temperature sitting at -9 C on Dec. 4, Bench 1775 Winery was picking grapes for the icewine harvest. Photo courtesy of Bench 1775 Winery

Icewine harvest begins for some Okanagan wineries

Cold temperatures prompted wineries to start their icewine harvest

After last year’s earliest start to icewine harvest in the past 10 years, winemakers and viticulturists in B.C. are collectively rejoicing at another early arrival of freezing temperatures.

Cold temperatures prompted wineries in the Okanagan Valley and Similkameen Valley to start picking grapes on Dec. 5 and continuing into the early morning hours on Dec. 6.

Related: Cold temperatures in 2017 means early ice wine

“Icewine harvest in B.C. can be as early as November or as late as February,” said Laura Kittmer, media relations manager of the B.C. Wine Institute, in a news release. “Wineries love early harvests as they avoid the risk of losing grapes to challenging weather and hungry animals, and the grapes preserve those pure varietal characters they are looking for.”

Unlike other icewine producing regions of Canada and the world that experience these cold climatic conditions each year, icewine harvest in B.C. is a rarity. The Okanagan Valley and Similkameen Valley are the only wine regions to regularly experience these temperatures in B.C., but it is never a guarantee. Producers wait in anticipation each year for temperatures to drop, not knowing if or when they will have a window of opportunity to complete an icewine harvest that vintage.

View this post on Instagram

Waiting for Pinot Noir icewine at our Partridge Vineyard on the Naramata Bench. . . . #icewine #icewineharvest #BCHarvest ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #NaramataBench ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #BCHarvest18 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #BCWine ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #harvest ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #bcwinecountry⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winelover⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #okanganlifestyle⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #instawine⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #okanaganwineries ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winerytour⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #naramatabench⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #naramatabenchwineries⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winery ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #okanaganwinery⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winetasting ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #explorebc⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #bench1775⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #bench1775winery⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winetasting⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #tastingroom⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #naramata⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #penticton⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winecation

A post shared by Bench 1775 Winery (@bench1775) on

“There are few opportunities here in B.C. where temperatures get cold enough to harvest for icewine,” said Val Tait, viticulturist and winemaker at Bench 1775 Winery on the Naramata Bench. “We track weather systems for early warnings of cold weather and have crews at the ready to pick so we don’t miss that early window. When we get the right conditions, the results are usually spectacular. It’s not common to have a warm enough growing season to develop beautiful fruit flavours and in that same season reach cold enough temperatures to make Icewine. B.C. icewine is very rare and special indeed.”

Tait produces icewine for their Paradise Ranch and Whistler brands, and anticipates picking to begin in late December.

While this year’s harvest so far has been limited to just seven wineries whose mercury dipped and sustained below the required -8 C and whose grapes reached the required 35 Brix, there are 20 wineries registered with the BC Wine Authority to pick an estimated 735 standard tonnes of icewine grapes on an estimated 175 acres. Last year the earliest harvest started on Nov. 5.

So far this year there have been three icewine pickings in the Oliver, West Kelowna, Kelowna and Lake Country areas on Dec. 5, 6 and 9 with temperatures ranging between -14 C and -8 C. An estimated 135 tonnes of grapes have been brought in, leaving approximately 570 tonnes of grapes left to pick, according to the B.C. Wine Authority, the regulatory body for icewine in B.C.

For Inniskillin Okanagan, harvest came about three weeks earlier than last year. Viticulturist Troy Osborne said his crew began picking in the Oliver areas on Black Sage Road North on Dec. 6, starting at 4 a.m. with temperatures ranging from -14 to -10 C. Osborne said the fruit quality so far has been excellent, very clean and intact.

Wine lovers across B.C. can look forward to a crop of new icewine releases in 2019.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Central Okanagan emergency support volunteers sought

Volunteers needed in Lake Country area

UBC Okanagan hosts gala evening of fun, art and entertainment

The annual event is celebrating its 17th anniversary

Okanagan Military Tattoo returns

Performances July 28 and July 28

Rockets topple Prince Albert Raiders

The Kelowna Rockets defeated the Raiders Saturday night

Heat couldn’t clip Thunderbird’s wings

The Thunderbirds defeated the Heat Saturday night and continued winning streak

Find me my furever home: Mittens and Boots

Meet Mittens and Boots who are available for adoption at the Kelowna BC SPCA

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Crash closes Coquihalla southbound lane south of Merritt

Accident occurred approximately 26 kilometres south of Merritt

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

Most Read