The annual grape harvest is well underway in the Okanagan.
It’s a labour of love filled with early morning starts and long hours, but wine lovers will soon be able to taste the fruits of that labour when those grapes go from vine to bottle.
“We are about two-thirds of the way through, so it’s been a pretty short harvest this year so far,” said Summerhill Pyramid Winery winemaker Michael Alexander.
“Hopefully in the next three weeks all the fruit will be in and we can catch up on some sleep.”
As this year’s harvest comes to an end, wineries are still reaping the rewards of last year’s harvest, with Summerhill Pyramid Winery being recognized for its muscat.
“We sent our muscat off to the Muscats du Monde and we won a gold (medal),” said Alexander, noting it was also listed as one of the top 10 in the world.
Their neighbours, St Hubertus and Oak Bay Estate Winery, also have a new feather in their cap for its riesling.
“Getting the recognition of the (Lieutenant Governor’s Awards) gold for the riesling, it just makes you happy,” said Andy Gebert of St Hubertus and Oak Bay Estate Winery.
This year’s harvest is one of the earliest for the 80-acre winery in Kelowna
“Everything came in together at the same time,” said Gebert.
“It’s a little bit smaller crop, but beautiful flavours and early for us. This is nearly impossible, to have everything in before Thanksgiving, so there’s only a handful of grapes that still have to come in.”
Both wineries were able to avoid smoke taint from heavy wildfire smoke this summer because of the grapes’ veraison — the transition from berry growth to berry ripening.
“I think the smoke came in early enough. We always talk about pre-veraison and post-veraison, where the grapes change colour. Most of the smoke was pre-veraison where it doesn’t affect the fruit,” said Alexander.
“So, touch wood, everything looks super clean this year and haven’t noticed any smoke taint.”
Their hard work carries on the centuries-old tradition of winemaking for another fruitful year ahead in the Okanagan.