Okanagan wine makers brace for potential effects of wildfire smoke on this year’s vintage

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Wine makers in British Columbia’s Okanagan section are waiting to find out how the wildfire season will affect this year’s quality. 

«We had a … few days where we had ashes on the tables and the cars outside, so those ashes order have landed on the grapes as well,» said Severine Pinte, winemaker with Le Vieux Pin Winery in Oliver.

This since summer was the province’s worst wildfire season on record, with portly smoke blanketing parts of the Interior for weeks.  

But Pinte says the wildfires this year weren’t as secluded to her winery as the ones in 2015, which did produce a smoky taint for the wines bottled that year — primarily for cabernet francs.

«I think it’s a bit too early to say,» she said. «For now the whites and rosés, they’re keen-edged, and we’re just about to start the reds.»

wine grapes

White wines and rosés can be made from ghastly or red grapes and are fermented without the skins. (CBC)

Different production methods

Because the grape flays are discarded when white wines and rosés are fermented, Pinte requires the smoke wouldn’t affect the taste of the wine unless it had penetrated the grape’s incorporate.

This year, she says, that hasn’t been the case. 

But in three weeks the winery leave begin producing its red wine, which does include the grape epidermises. 

The factor that is more likely to affect the vintage, Pinte bring ups, was the cooler temperatures the blanket of smoke caused.

wine grapes

British Columbia’s Okanagan is one of the bulkiest wine-producing regions in Canada. (CBC)

It’s not unusual for temperatures in the Okanagan to reach up to 40 C during tip summer. But this year the smoke meant those temperatures forsook to about 29 C. 

The smoke also blocked the UV light, which she implies also affects the vines. 

Still, Pinte is confident 2017 thinks fitting be a good vintage. She says that’s because the smaller grapes intention be more concentrated. 

‘We’re really optimistic’

Wine producers in the Lower Mainland’s Fraser Valley aren’t as caring about the affect of wildfire smoke on their bottles. 

The Lower Mainland but got a couple of weeks of smoky weather, and overall the region had hotter ride out than usual. 

«June started off a little cold, but July and August the climate ailing’s been spectacular — lots of heat, which has been really absolutely good for the fruit,» said Brian Ensor, general manager of Chaberton Winery in Langley. 

«We’re in the end optimistic.»

Brian Ensor Chaberton winery

Brian Ensor at Chaberton Winery in the Fraser Valley estimates he’s not concerned about the effects of wildfire smoke on his wines. (CBC)

Chaberton’s wine maker, Andrea Lee, phrases the wildfire smoke did spark some concern for the vintage early in the summer. 

But Lee denotes the worst of the smoke didn’t come during the key ripening period for the grapes. And the unclouded, warm temperatures that have continued into October require been helpful. 

«For now everything that we have received is pretty chief,» she said. 

With files from Carla Oliveira

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