Friday, December 4, 2009

2009 BC Vintage Report

The following notes and quotes have been collected from numerous BC Wine industry contacts (as noted) describing what seems to have been an above average growing season, albeit a condensed one. - LC

Laughing Stock Vineyards: (Sep 29th)
"If you had asked us this spring, when snow still covered the vineyard, as to how the season would end, we would have been rather pessimistic with the latest bud break we've ever had thanks to the late arrival of spring. Coupled with the TSX at 7,500, things were looking pretty dire, with nature and the market obviously in cahoots. Fast forward 6 months, the TSX is over 11,000 and in the past 90 days of Okanagan sunshine, we've only had 2 days of rain, resulting in the earliest harvest ever at Laughing Stock."

From Burrowing Owl Estate Winery: (Oct 1st)
"Following an almost picture perfect grape growing summer the harvest has come upon us early. There is a good chance that you will see the action when you visit us during The Okanagan Wine Festival. Chardonnay (pictured here) and Pinot Gris were harvested Sept 21 & Sept. 22. Look for a spectacular vintage to result from this year's harvest. The quality of the grapes coming in are fantastic."

Road 13 Vineyards & Winery: (Dec 3rd)
"In the Okanagan Valley, cool climate viticulture is defined by its compressed growing season, which is possible with the long daylight hours that southern regions miss. 2009 was, hands down, the most compressed vintage that we’ve ever seen in the Okanagan. Bud break began almost 3 weeks late yet, despite the late start, the vines easily caught up with little rain and perfect temperatures for uninterrupted growth. We started into harvest well ahead of schedule which was fortunate because we were about to get hit with some unseasonably cold weather much earlier than normal. The growing season ended about 2 weeks early with a leaf killing frost (albeit on generally ripe grapes). We were fortunate for our ripeness to have caught up the way it did!
Obviously the weather conditions will have an impact on the flavours and textures of the wines, which will reveal themselves over time. Nobody honestly knows if the impact will be positive or simply “different”. The star wines that we have noticed so far in the cellar are definitely Chardonnay, which is showing excellent intensity and balance, and Merlot and Syrah, which are showing very good intensity as well as excellent tannic structure. Overall, we’re excited for the new vintage to be released and can’t wait to share them!"

Averill Creek Vineyard: (Dec)
"Averill Creek had a wonderful year in 2009 with a bumper harvest of very good quality, ripe fruit. We were expecting 65 tons of grapes and ended up picking 92 tons. The quality of the Pinot Noir was exceptional and we have great hopes for making a reserve which would be available in 2011. We will have good volumes of Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer for 2010 and we will be releasing a new wine made in a Beaujolais style from our Marechal Foch."

Wild Goose Vineyards: (Dec 8th)
"Anyone who thinks that farming is not exciting should have lived through the 2009 growing season! It started after one of the coldest winters that we had ever experienced in our 25 years of growing grapes. Although there was tremendous damage to vineyards throughout the entire valley, Wild Goose fared rather well in that we suffered only small losses to our crops, both at our vineyards and at those selected vineyards which grow for us. Many Okanagan grape growers suffered huge losses to plants and crops. The harsh winter slowed the start of spring, but things picked up in June when the sun began to heat our valley. Once things warmed up, the heat never let up! The intense heat led to one of our earliest harvests on record. The harvest came so fast that our Wild Goose Riesling was harvested in September, the only time in our history that we picked Riesling in September!! Every variety appeared to ripen at the same time. We proceeded to pick one variety after another, with no breaks in between. Fortunately most of our grapes were harvested when the entire valley was hit with -10 C temperatures on October 10. Many locals who live in the Okanagan say they had never experienced cold temperatures like this so early in October. Any grapes that were still hanging when the freeze occurred were unaffected by the frost because the grapes were already ripe and were just waiting their turn to be picked and processed. After this freeze the valley experienced seasonally normal temperatures. So what was the result of all of this strange weather on the wine industry? One of the best harvests we have ever experienced!! Lovely clean fruit with vibrant flavours and beautiful crisp acidity. 2009 will certainly be an excellent vintage to watch out for when the wines are released in mid April!"

Black Hills Estate Winery: (Dec 9th)
"As you may have heard, the 2009 vintage could well be one of the most outstanding of the decade! Mother Nature delivered unto the South Okanagan a beautifully hot growing season from June to late September. Lots of warm days to enable full ripening of the fruit and cool nights to help capture the acidity in the grapes. This resulted in a harvest that started two weeks early than normal and kept our vineyard crew hopping throughout September.

When an early frost hit the Okanagan Valley on Oct. 7, 8 and 9, the impact was nominal to us as most of our grapes had already been picked. What grapes were on the vine were quickly harvested and processed with no impact on their quality. All in all, our winemaking team is very excited by what is shaping up in the tanks and barrels. The flavor profiles are incredible!"

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