Okanagan winemakers weathering wet weather

Click to play video: 'Winemaking weather woes'
Winemaking weather woes
Winemaking weather woes – Oct 15, 2019

As part of a semi-arid desert, the Okanagan is well known for producing awarding-winning wines. However, unusual high volumes of rain this year have caused worry among winemakers.

According to Environment Canada, Kelowna saw 40.8 millimetres of rain in September, compared to the usual 32.4 mm. Meanwhile, Penticton saw over double its normal amount of precipitation.

This was not good news for vineyards this season.

Grapevines soak up excess water, causing grapes to swell, lowering the sugar and alcohol levels and diluting the juice.

Click to play video: 'Minor rainstorm pelts the Central Okanagan'
Minor rainstorm pelts the Central Okanagan

“It’s meant a lot more time out in the vineyard monitoring things,” said Summerhill Pyramid Winery winemaker Michael Alexander.

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“Every vintage is a little different, every year comes with its own challenges. This year, it just happens to be water.”

Alexander said the biggest difference this year is the alcohol percentage in each bottle.

“Instead of 13, 14, 15, per cent, it may be a year where we see 12, 12.5 per cent.”

He said although this causes a wrinkle for the winery, the vintage is not ruined.

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B.C. wine awards help entire industry compete on world stage: wineries

“We’ll still get great flavours; we’ll still get great wines,” said Alexander. “They’ve got a really nice balance to them.”

It just means a little more work for the winery, spending more time checking vineyards and tasting the wine as it progresses. It also means turning over fermenting grapes more often to pull more flavor from the grape skins that collect at the top of the vats of wine.

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Alexander said challenges make the job fun, and that he is not worried about the vintage for the winery.

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