KELOWNA – The Okanagan’s wine industry has already built a name for itself, but this year could produce the best vintage in a century.
“I really do think this will be one of the best vintages in last 100 years for the Okanagan valley,” says Eric von Krosikg, the winemaker at Summerhill Pyramid Winery.
Normally at this time of year, the grapes on the vine are still green.
In many cases this year though, the grapes have already changed colour. including the pinot noir grapes at the popular Kelowna winery.
“They are purple, they are purple, and normally this would be starting two or three weeks from now, “ says von Krosikg.
Mother nature is getting all the credit. The warm weather started early this year and has continued all summer long, with last month the second-warmest July on record. That has made grape growing conditions this year perfectly ripe, allowing the fruit to mature to its full potential.
“The longer they hang the more flavour they develop, “ says von Krosikg.
“We have already seen down south in our own blocks in Oliver and Osoyoos, we have seen syrah that turned colour weeks ago. We have never had that before, so we will be seeing flavour spectrums we never experienced here that we would normally allocate to a hotter country.”
At St. Hubertus and Oak Bay Estate Winery, the enthusiasm is being echoed.
“We are probably three weeks ahead of schedule, “ says owner Andy Gebert. “I think this is one of the years we will do harvesting in shorts and getting a perfect tan while doing it.”
Gebert agrees the long stretch of warm days coupled with cool nights are resulting in a perfect balance of acidity and fruit characteristics.
“Normally the later part of August and September definitely will cool down, so we will get the maturity but having the extra time at the beginning of the year, that means that we will have the sugar levels coming up,” says Gebert.
“This is very important for us.”
The grape growing isn’t finished just yet. Winemakers up and down the valley are hoping mother nature continues to cooperate with more sun and warm temperatures. If that happens, this year’s vintage is full of promise.
“For people who love Okanagan wine, they are in for a real treat,” says von Krosikg.