Smaller crops but intense flavour, B.C. wine growers say of 2020 vintage

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Small, but mighty.

That’s how Wine Growers British Columbia (WGBC) is describing the 2020 grape-growing season and resulting harvest.

On Thursday, WGBC released its annual vintage report, a brief, four-page article that touched on all the province’s wine regions, but was mostly focused on the Southern Interior.

Overall, it said the province experienced slightly lower yields, but “exceptional fruit quality for an exciting 2020 vintage.”

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“The Okanagan Valley experienced ideal summer weather which continued into the fall harvest providing a long growing season with lots of sun and low rainfall, contributing to exceptional quality of fruit with high concentration, ripe tannins and great natural acidity, along with the balance, complexity and freshness that will provide great ageability,” WGBC said.

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“The tannins are beautiful, concentration unreal and the aromatics off the chart. A small quantity but delicious vintage,” added David Paterson, general manager and winemaker at Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna.

The report said the Similkameen Valley saw very similar conditions to the Okanagan, though none of the cooler and damper weather around flowering that the Okanagan experienced, which contributed to lower yields.

It said many Similkameen winemakers reported a full and healthy crop.

“Weights across the board were lower than average, but the quality of the vintage was excellent,” said John Weber, owner and winemaker at Orofino Vineyards in Cawston.

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The report said the rest of B.C.’s Interior had similar weather to the Okanagan, with a cooler, damper start before a warm, sunny summer, which provided “ideal ripening conditions, producing wines with crisp, fresh acidity and excellent flavour.”

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Regarding the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, the report said coastal regions “saw a cooler than average vintage, producing fruit that created wines with the typical fresh island style, natural acidity, balance and slightly lower alcohol levels.”

The report also touched on ice wines, with 2020 producing the smallest crop in the last 20 years, with only seven of 14 registered wineries picking frozen grapes. Of the 300 registered tonnes, 74.75 tonnes were picked.

“Although there may be a little less supply this year to go around,” said WGBC, “winemakers and viticulturists are saying the overall vintage is exceptional, characterized by intensely flavoured, balanced, fresh wines.

“The 2020 vintage has all the characteristics to savour and enjoy right now, while also exhibiting excellent balance and complexity to cellar for a special occasion.”

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