With the temperature sitting at -9 C on Dec. 4, Bench 1775 Winery was picking grapes for the icewine harvest.                                Photo courtesy of Bench 1775 Winery

With the temperature sitting at -9 C on Dec. 4, Bench 1775 Winery was picking grapes for the icewine harvest. Photo courtesy of Bench 1775 Winery

Icewine harvest begins for some Okanagan wineries

Cold temperatures prompted wineries to start their icewine harvest

After last year’s earliest start to icewine harvest in the past 10 years, winemakers and viticulturists in B.C. are collectively rejoicing at another early arrival of freezing temperatures.

Cold temperatures prompted wineries in the Okanagan Valley and Similkameen Valley to start picking grapes on Dec. 5 and continuing into the early morning hours on Dec. 6.

Related: Cold temperatures in 2017 means early ice wine

“Icewine harvest in B.C. can be as early as November or as late as February,” said Laura Kittmer, media relations manager of the B.C. Wine Institute, in a news release. “Wineries love early harvests as they avoid the risk of losing grapes to challenging weather and hungry animals, and the grapes preserve those pure varietal characters they are looking for.”

Unlike other icewine producing regions of Canada and the world that experience these cold climatic conditions each year, icewine harvest in B.C. is a rarity. The Okanagan Valley and Similkameen Valley are the only wine regions to regularly experience these temperatures in B.C., but it is never a guarantee. Producers wait in anticipation each year for temperatures to drop, not knowing if or when they will have a window of opportunity to complete an icewine harvest that vintage.

View this post on Instagram

Waiting for Pinot Noir icewine at our Partridge Vineyard on the Naramata Bench. . . . #icewine #icewineharvest #BCHarvest ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #NaramataBench ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #BCHarvest18 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #BCWine ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #harvest ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #bcwinecountry⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winelover⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #okanganlifestyle⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #instawine⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #okanaganwineries ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winerytour⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #naramatabench⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #naramatabenchwineries⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winery ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #okanaganwinery⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winetasting ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #explorebc⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #bench1775⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #bench1775winery⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winetasting⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #tastingroom⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #naramata⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #penticton⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #winecation

A post shared by Bench 1775 Winery (@bench1775) on

“There are few opportunities here in B.C. where temperatures get cold enough to harvest for icewine,” said Val Tait, viticulturist and winemaker at Bench 1775 Winery on the Naramata Bench. “We track weather systems for early warnings of cold weather and have crews at the ready to pick so we don’t miss that early window. When we get the right conditions, the results are usually spectacular. It’s not common to have a warm enough growing season to develop beautiful fruit flavours and in that same season reach cold enough temperatures to make Icewine. B.C. icewine is very rare and special indeed.”

Tait produces icewine for their Paradise Ranch and Whistler brands, and anticipates picking to begin in late December.

While this year’s harvest so far has been limited to just seven wineries whose mercury dipped and sustained below the required -8 C and whose grapes reached the required 35 Brix, there are 20 wineries registered with the BC Wine Authority to pick an estimated 735 standard tonnes of icewine grapes on an estimated 175 acres. Last year the earliest harvest started on Nov. 5.

So far this year there have been three icewine pickings in the Oliver, West Kelowna, Kelowna and Lake Country areas on Dec. 5, 6 and 9 with temperatures ranging between -14 C and -8 C. An estimated 135 tonnes of grapes have been brought in, leaving approximately 570 tonnes of grapes left to pick, according to the B.C. Wine Authority, the regulatory body for icewine in B.C.

For Inniskillin Okanagan, harvest came about three weeks earlier than last year. Viticulturist Troy Osborne said his crew began picking in the Oliver areas on Black Sage Road North on Dec. 6, starting at 4 a.m. with temperatures ranging from -14 to -10 C. Osborne said the fruit quality so far has been excellent, very clean and intact.

Wine lovers across B.C. can look forward to a crop of new icewine releases in 2019.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Linda Sanky photo
Vehicle fire spreads to trees at Penticton beach spot

The fire is at Pyramid beach, off Highway 97 between Summerland and Penticton

Old English design elements can be seen in the sign of the Summerland Farm and Garden Centre in 1993. The guidelines are no longer in place, but some downtown businesses still show aspects of the days when Summerland had a theme in place. This photo was taken by Summerland photographer Dan Dorotich. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Old English theme has been abandoned

From the 1980s until the early 2000s, Summerland had design guidelines in its downtown

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

Nominally 'flushable' wipes caused one of Keremeos lift stations to shut down, damaging the pump inside. The Village is asking residents not to flush anything that isn't human waste. (Black Press)
Keremeos reminds residents not to flush wipes after pump damaged

‘Flushable’ wipes caused the pump to seize up and burn out

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Firefighters battled a burning home on farmland in the north end of Vernon Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Homeowner taken to hospital after Vernon home destroyed by fire

Firefighters engaged in a lengthy battle against the engulfed structure Saturday afternoon

Members of the Okanagan Screen Arts Society received a cheque for $1,500 Thursday, April 15, 2021. The funds are to help the society’s efforts as they prepare take over operation of the Vernon Towne Cinema at the end of July. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Okanagan dealership gives local cinema a lift

Vernon Watkin Motor Ford, in business for more than 100 years, donated to the theatre with nearly as long a history

Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over in surgical unit of Vernon hospital

The outbreak affected four staff, 10 patients and led to three deaths in just over two weeks

A group of youth in Kelowna's Knox Mountain Park are suspected as having violated the B.C. Wildlife Act by harassing a pair of nesting bald eagles with a drone Friday, April 16, 2021. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Nesting bald eagles harassed by youth-piloted drone in Kelowna

Conservation Officers are hoping to hear from anyone who witnessed the Knox Mountain incident

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read