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Okanagan wineries still have wine to sell

And the tasting rooms are open with plenty of offerings.

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In an April 1 Facebook post, Volcanic Hills owner Bobby Gidda revealed what the winery will do because its winter-damaged vines will produce few, if any, grapes this fall. He showed a video of grafting asparagus onto dormant vines. That was, of course, an April Fools’ Day joke. He used it to remember that the winery’s tasting room is open to sell wine. Volcanic Hills, like most Okanagan and Similkameen wineries, relies on selling wine from previous vintages for the next few years as the vineyards return to producing grapes.

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“The impact of this year’s cold event will not be felt in the market until 2025 for white wines and 2026 for red wines,” writes Evan Saunders, winemaker at Blasted Church Vineyards. “We all have wine at the moment. “We are exploring all of our options going forward, so we hope we can avoid any supply issues.”

Most wineries have given similar guarantees. The last thing they need is for wine tourists and wine club patrons to stop buying wine because they believe wineries are running out of inventory simply because too little wine will be made in 2024.

The 2023 harvest was small but the wines are tasty. Without a doubt, wineries will have to be creative to stay in the market. Arterra Wines, owner of Jackson-Triggs and other Okanagan wineries, has already offered consumers wines from two Arterra properties in Ontario. Wineries need cash flow to finance important vineyard replanting. Corcelettes Estate winery in the Similkameen Valley, which was hit hard by the January frost, has already announced it will replant its five vineyards. “A small silver lining is that we still have our 2021 and 2022 red wines to release,” says co-owner Charlie Baessler. “They are nothing short of exceptional.”

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three to try

Quail Gate Chasselas-Pinot Blanc-Pinot Gris 2023

This is a blend of 50 percent Chasselas, 30 percent Pinot Blanc and 20 percent Pinot Gris. The varietals were cold fermented separately in stainless steel tanks. This is Quails’ Gate’s most popular wine: a wine that manages to be juicy on the palate and refreshing on the finish. There are aromas of citrus and pear, giving way to flavors of apple and peach. 90/100 ($21.99)

Spearhead Braided Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2022

This East Kelowna vineyard was only planted in 2000 with two Dijon clones, 771 and 115. The quality for a young wine is amazing. Ruby in the glass, the wine begins with aromas of cherry mixed with oak. There are plum, cherry and spice flavors. The texture is lush and silky. 92/100 ($39)

Pentaje Gamay 2022

The wine has aromas and flavors of cherry, plum and spices, with a delicious touch of pepper on the mid-palate. 92/100 ($22.61)

One step at a time

Okanagan Crush Pad’s Haywire Winery wants to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent over the next six years. Its latest move is to release two wines, a Pinot Gris and a Merlot, in 1.5-litre recyclable bags, achieving an 80 per cent carbon footprint reduction compared to heavier glass bottles. Consumers might also prefer to take the lightweight bags with simple spigots to picnics.

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