Wine Growers British Columbia Releases Annual Vintage Report
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Wine Growers British Columbia releases its annual Vintage Report which tells the tale of two vintages for 2022: the first half of the year characterized by cool conditions, the second half by spectacular warm and sunny days. These two tales have one ending, at harvest time winegrowers across the province welcomed bountiful yields of high-quality fruit.
"Wine Growers BC was pleased to host winemakers and viticulturists from across the province at our annual forum this past December to review the 2022 growing season in BC vineyards," said Miles Prodan, CEO & President of Wine Growers British Columbia. "As reflected in the Vintage Report, there was resounding agreement that while not without its challenges, the 2022 vintage will be remembered for incredible harvest conditions, remarkable fruit quality, and average to above average yields. BC wine lovers can look forward to celebrating the bounty this year as the 2022 wines start to hit the shelves this spring."
The Okanagan Valley perfectly emulates the idea of 2022 being 'a tale of two vintages', with winter conditions steady, save a cold snap late December 2021, spring being cool and wet, resulting in late budbreak and flowering, then summer arriving dramatically, with consistent heat and sun doing wonders for fruit development and quality. "The wines all show brilliant natural acidity, great fruit profile and a wonderful balance," said Evan Saunders, Winemaker, Blasted Church Vineyards. Saunders is among the majority (4 of 5) of Okanagan Valley winegrowers who welcomed a return to what would be described as normal yields from their vines, notable after the three-year short crop trend.
The neighbouring Similkameen Valley experienced a similar cool to hot growing season, capped off by ideal harvest conditions. The growing degree day (GDD) count from the Cawston weather station reveals 2022 as the fourth warmest vintage in the last ten years, impressive considering how cool and wet the season began. All that heat and sun the vines enjoyed through late summer and early fall resulted in clean fruit with concentrated flavours. "The aromatic whites and rosé wines are bright and mineral driven with above average levels of fruit intensity," said Dwight Sick, General Manager and Winegrower, Seven Stones Winery. Of the red varieties, Sick mentions "great structure, bright acidity with low pH and moderate alcohol levels," suggesting BC wine lovers can look forward to elegance and ageability from the 2022 wines.
The interior BC wine regions of Thompson Valley, Lillooet, Shuswap, and the Kootenays followed a similar pattern of a cool winter with a notable cold snap, and a cool wet spring, but in the end recording on average or higher than average GDD levels for the year. Observations on yield vary through these regions, with winter damage a site-specific occurrence in some cases resulting in similar crop levels to last year. In Lillooet, Alex Nel, Winemaker/Viticulturist at Fort Berens Estate Winery describes experiencing "no extreme heat and a cooler season," he "expects it to be a very elegant vintage."
Over to the coastal regions of Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island. Typically cooler than the interior regions, winegrowers here were doubly grateful for the warm and dry conditions July through October, allowing the vines to thrive and produce ripe, flavourful fruit at higher yields than recent vintages. Winemaker Mary McDermott, Township7 Vineyards & Winery, agrees with her colleagues from inland when noting that "2022 was definitely an interesting season" and in concluding "the resulting wines are well balanced with good acidity, balanced alcohol and sweetness."
After a delayed but abundant harvest, those winemakers who left fruit on the vine intending to craft the rare late harvest, and rarer still Icewine, continued to monitor weather forecasts closely. Temperatures dipped to the required -8°C for Icewine, with pickings taking place in early November in Kelowna, and late November in Cawston, the last on record late January 2023 in Shuswap. The total tonnage for Icewine from the 2022 vintage reached 113, an increase over the previous two years (35 tonnes in 2021, and 75 tonnes in 2020).
Read the full BC Wine 2022 Vintage Report.
The Wines of British Columbia Vintage Guide provides a snapshot of the growing conditions in BC vineyards for each vintage from the last ten years. While the nine geographical indications of British Columbia are all distinct in climate, terroir, and resulting wine styles, the Vintage Guide is a useful educational tool for BC wine professionals to reference when tasting or serving BC wine from multiple vintages. The 2022 vintage has now been added to the guide, which is available on WineBC.com.
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