Okanagan grape harvest season in full swing

The Okanagan grape harvest is in full swing, and many wineries are currently harvesting grapes destined for sparkling wine

Okanagan Crush Pad co-owner Christine Coletta holds grapes from Switchback Vineyard.

Okanagan Crush Pad co-owner Christine Coletta holds grapes from Switchback Vineyard.

The Okanagan grape harvest is in full swing, and many wineries are currently harvesting grapes destined for sparkling wine, in addition to white varieties such as gewürztraminer, pinot gris and chardonnay.

Early reports suggest that 2013 will be an excellent vintage with great quality potential.

“We harvested this vineyard a full three weeks earlier than last year, and the quality of the fruit looks very good. Prepare for a great 2013 vintage from the Okanagan,” said Michael Bartier, chief winemaker at Okanagan Crush Pad, who has harvested gewürztraminer from a Summerland vineyard owned by his brother Don Bartier, to be used for their Bartier Brothers wine.

Christine Coletta, co-owner of Okanagan Crush Pad, expects to process 420 tonnes this year.

The grapes are coming from as far north as Kamloops and as far south as Osoyoos.

“Grapes are ripening quickly and the fruit flavours on these early picks have been exceptional. But it is not over until it is over, so we are cautiously optimistic that harvest will continue to be a smooth sail,” she said.

Winemakers and vineyard owners are expecting 2013 to be a great vintage.

“Lots of spring rain paired with hot days and cool nights made for ideal growing conditions, so we are two weeks ahead of schedule. The grapes taste phenomenal right now,” said Judy Kingston, owner of Naramata’s Serendipity Winery.

“It will be a solid year for sauvignon blanc and viognier, our two estate whites. The reds are coming along well, but we’ll need some dry weather coming into October. It should be an early year for everything, and we’re looking forward to the spring, when customers can enjoy the delicious fruits of our labour.”

Scott Ingram, the vineyard manager for Perseus, notes that high temperatures and a lack of rainfall in the peak of summer had growers anticipating an early harvest and a great 2013 vintage for all of the Okanagan.

Post Labour Day rain caused some concern for growers, but he said that everything is still on track for an exceptional early harvest this year.

Perseus is preparing to process pinot gris from the winery’s Lower Bench Road vineyard within the next two weeks.

British Columbia’s harvest will last for many weeks yet, and as mentioned, some 2013 wines will be available as soon as spring 2014. For more information on how to celebrate the harvest visit www.thewinefestival.ca for events being held at the upcoming Fall Wine Festival.