It was a harvest for the record books.
Quails’ Gate winery completed the ice wine harvest at their West Kelowna vineyard in the early hours of this morning when temperatures dipped to -11 C, said Lindsay Kelm, communications and marketing manager.
The last time pickers were anywhere near this quick to trundle into the icy vineyards was three years ago when winter hit Nov. 13, 2014. That time around, said Kelm, it was such a large harvest that they didn’t need to do another until now. It may be a similar story this year.
There were 10 tonnes picked off area vines, which Kelm said was “more than expected.”
“Because we had such an early harvest, we lost a lot less to the pests that like to eat the fruit,” she said.
The other side of an early harvest is the fruit quality is different.
“You get really great flavours, this time of year,” she said, adding that there will be clear citrus and honey characteristics in the wine.
“It should be a spectacular vintage.”
Also spectacular is that the harvesters won’t have to worry about when winter will hit. The worst is behind them. Several other wineries around the area have done their ice wine harvest, though, when contacted, others said they would wait until later in the season.
What the British Columbia Wine Authority wants to see is sustained temperatures of -8 C throughout the harvest.
Those frigid temperatures cause the water in grapes to freeze. When they are picked and pressed in that state they produce a small amount of sweet juice.
Ice wine is a sure sign of winter’s arrival.
A modified air-mass from the arctic has swept down over B.C. and it’s toppling temperature records as it settles in.
People in the southern Interior are well practiced at winter but this spate of sub 0 C weather, said Environment Canada meteorologist Trevor Smith, is a bit early, thus the records being broken.
Kelowna saw records topple Nov. 6 when the mercury dipped to -11.5 C, beating a 2003 record of -9.4 C. Today another record may be broken if temperatures drop below -9.5 C.
Offering some perspective on all-time November records, however, Smith said that in 2006 the low was -24.1 C.
“So, it can get really cold in November,” he said.