2012 Grape Harvest Begins in British Columbia

BC Wine Institute October 5, 2012

October 5, 2012, (Kelowna, BC) - Despite a wet spring, the 2012 BC grape harvest has begun and it promises to be a banner vintage for the Wines of British Columbia.

At the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Dr. Pat Bowen has been closely watching the vintage. With the heavy rainfall in June in Summerland at 79.8 mm, more than double the norm of 36.2 mm, Bowen says that the cloud cover and rainfall created more vigour in the vines and that irrigation often wasn’t needed. An even bud break has led to high levels of fruitfulness in the shoots with even development.

In the Okanagan, the first grapes were picked by Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate on September 7, more than a week ahead of 2011’s and 2010’s vintages on September 15. Sauvignon Blanc grapes were picked from the Bullpine Vineyard south of Oliver. Winemaker Derek Kontkanen says that while the 2012 growing season “started with a wet cool spring, the weather in August and September turned it around for a great vintage.”

At Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, winemaker Eric von Krosigk began harvest on September 20 in Osoyoos with Chardonnay for their sparkling program. Von Krosigk is currently picking Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, but waiting on the bigger reds. “With such a rainy spring, we had flowering for three weeks, which means we have three weeks of development at different stages for each berry,” explains von Krosigk. Due to the difference in each of the berries, some are very ripe, but some are still maturing and more acidic. “We have to find a balance of fruit flavours,” notes von Krosigk. He feels the grapes have a “beautiful intensity of flavours this year” and that the warm late summer has made for excellent conditions. He expects exceptional quality for all of his Pinot varietals.

Winemaker Sandra Oldfield from Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver began harvest on September 10 with Gewürztraminer. Currently picking Pinot Gris, she has already brought in many of the varietals for the winery’s 2Bench White. Oldfield plans to wait for her larger reds, as she feels the 2012 vintage needs more time to mature. “The flavours are taking a while to develop, which means picking at higher sugar ripeness before we have phenolic ripeness,” Oldfield explains. She plans to hang the grapes longer to have flavours develop. “This is the exact opposite of last year, where we were able to pick at lower sugar levels because flavours developed early,” says Oldfield. She looks forward to excellent quality with the Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Syrah and Cabernet Franc.

On Vancouver Island, Rocky Creek Winery has not yet started harvesting, and doesn’t expect to until October 20. Owner and winemaker Mark Holford feels that the grapes look great, but need more time to ripen; he explains that “after the cool wet June, our harvest is going to be later this year.” He notes that “crop levels are good and the great weather in late summer and early fall should result in great phenolic development.” Holford feels that his Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir are looking spectacular and is expecting great wines if the current weather conditions continue.

In the Similkameen Valley, EauVivre Winery & Vineyards proprietor Dale Wright started harvest on October 1 with Gewürztraminer. He has harvested all of his white wines at this point, and expects to pick his reds next week, after Thanksgiving. Wright notes that “the quality is great this year. 2012 has been a much better vintage than last year, and the fruit is ripening naturally.” He is excited about the quality of the red fruit, and has a Bordeaux blend in the works.

In the Fraser Valley, Neck of the Woods Winery has not yet begun harvest either, but plans to start on October 9. Proprietor Trent Blackwell will bring in Pinot Noir first, followed by Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Merlot in late October. “Crops are coming in later this fall in the Fraser Valley because of our very wet June,” says Blackwell. With that said, he notes that the dry and warm fall has been great for the grapes and that the fruit is ripening well. “The overall health of the fruit is good – very healthy and clean,” explains Blackwell. Excited for the 2012 vintage, Blackwell feels both his Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris will be of excellent quality.

Located outside of BC’s designated viticultural areas, Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery in Creston is preparing to start harvest right after Thanksgiving, just ahead of last vintage’s October 12 start. Proprietor Bob Johnson is waiting to increase the brix in the fruit to capture amazing quality. “The Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc look incredible this year,” Johnson notes.

Despite the wet spring, vintners across the province are excited about the prospect for both quality and quantity this vintage. Some of the standout varietals look to be Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

For the latest harvest updates, like www.facebook.com/winebcdotcom, and follow @winebcdotcom and #BCharvest2012 on Twitter.


For further information:
Kate Crothers

Communications Coordinator


tel. 250-762-9744 ext. 103

cell. 250-317-8688


British Columbia Wine Institute

Suite 107 – 1726 Dolphin Avenue

Kelowna, B.C. V1Y 9R9



phone. 250-762-9744

toll free. 1-800-661-2294

fax. 250-762-9788


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