A B.C. winery managed to escape the worst of a bad winter, but it is still feeling the impact of plunging temperatures elsewhere in the province.
Cody Karman, manager of the Township 7 Vineyards and Winery in south Langley, said they were “relatively unscathed” by the unseasonably cold weather last year.
“We did have some damage to the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon [grapes] but no mass damage to any of our vineyards,” Karman told the Langley Advance Times.
It was a different story in the Okanagan, where temperatures fell below minus 30 C at one point in December.
“One of the vineyards we sourced from, they grow our Syrah [grapes], and they unfortunately were completely decimated,” Karman said.
“They are going to replant the Syrah, so we might miss a few vintages, or have to source from elsewhere,” Karman predicted.
“It was an absolute blow to the wine industry.”
Writer and wine columnist John Schreiner, author of The World of Canadian Wine, The Wineries of British Columbia, and British Columbia Wine Country, and 12 other books on wine, described last year’s weather as “really peculiar” during an apperance at the Township 7 winery on 16th Avenue at 212th Street on Sunday, June 25.
“We had a wet cool spring,” Schreiner explained, “so the grapes were delayed two to three weeks to get into the stage where they were flowering.”
That meant the vines didn’t have a chance to become “properly dormant” before temperatures fell to a “killing temperature,” Schreiner summarized.
“Vines need a few weeks to ‘go to sleep,’ for the the sap to retreat to the roots, and if it hasn’t retreated, and it gets cold, the vines will kind of burst. Just like it’s like your pipes in your house, if it gets cold, and they freeze the pipes over.”
A lot of vines were “killed outright,” Schreiner said.
A report commissioned by Wine Growers British Columbia said the “worst fears” of a potential crop loss have been realized with a 54 per cent reduction in 2023 and 45 per cent of total planted acreage suffering what Miles Prodan, president and CEO of Wine Growers British Columbia, called “long-term irreparable damage.”
B.C.’s wine industry is appealing to the provincial and federal governments for help, asking for a dedicated grant to support crisis relief, additional funding for the Perennial Crop Renewal Program, and alignment of the provincial crop insurance program to cover “unique climate-change related events” such as the cold snap.
Township 7’s Karman hopes consumers will help struggling smaller B.C. wineries by making purchases.
“They’re going to need us to be buying these bottles of wine, to kind of keep that revenue flow going for the next few years,” Karman remarked.
“I think what we can do as the consumers, is ultimately show our support and shop local.”
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