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Weather pushes grape harvest forward

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B.C. wine grape harvest very early
B.C. wine grape harvest very early – Aug 30, 2016

KEREMEOS — After a blazing hot start to spring in B.C.’s Southern Interior, many are feeling the effects of a slower, cooler summer.

None more than in the Similkameen Valley, where the weather helped vineyards grow at a rapid pace, pushing the grape harvest forward almost an entire month.

Grapes hang at Herrera Family Vineyard in Keremeos on Tuesday. Timm Bruch/Global News

Andy Herrera owns one of those vineyards. He’ll be picking grapes all this week, something he says he’s never done in his decade as a supplier in Keremeos.

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Local experts say much of the grape growth can be attributed to a hot, early spring followed by precipitation heading into the summer. The constant change in temperature pushed the grapes to an early development, and should help some vines carry a higher quality of grape heading into the fall.

Local wine expert, Harry McWatters, has already been picking at his vineyard for three weeks.

“This is my 49th vintage in the wine business and I’ve never seen a harvest this early. And historical records say that people weren’t picking grapes any earlier than this.”

McWatters believes the harvest could do wonders for an industry that seems to be constantly booming.

“I think that what it does is even in the fringe areas, where the grower may be pushing their limit as far as what they’re growing or the amount of crop they’ve got, it gives them a bit bigger window to mature that fruit to its optimum level. It’s a good thing.”

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