It is a busy week in the world of wine!
Monday kicked off the start of the Vancouver International Wine Festival that runs until this Sunday, May 22nd. I attended the Media event, picked up my name badge, had a glass of wine, and got to hug a few people in person.
Yesterday, I went downtown to The Vancouver Club for the Wines of British Columbia‘s ‘Vintage 2021 Media Preview.’ There were six panellists who previewed their spring wines to a surprisingly small crowd. I kept looking around the room waiting for people to show up but I guess an 11:00 AM start time on a Tuesday didn’t work for many?
The event was moderated by Barb Philip MW and the panellists were:
- Mark Holford of Rocky Creek Winery on Vancouver Island
- Mary McDermott of Township 7 Winery representing both the Lower Mainland and Okanagan Valley
- Galen Barnhardt of Monte Creeek Winery in the Similkameen Valley
- Dwight Sick of Seven Stones Winery in the Similkameen Valley
- Lyndsay O’Rourke of Tightrope Winery from the Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley
- Chriss Tolley of Moon Curser Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley
Our British Columbia weather in 2021 can only be described as ‘extreme’. We saw Canada’s highest ever recorded temperature to date at 49.6ºC in the interior of the province. Many regions broke temperature records, such as Kelowna, Osoyoos and Lillooet. High temperatures resulted in smaller yields by as much as 30%. The warmer conditions led to an early harvest that delivered concentration from small berries.
One of the many topics of conversation was the rising number of growing degree days (GDD) in B.C. Osoyoos, for example, went from an 11-year average of 1544 GDD to 1758 GDD last year. The Similkameen Valley also set an astonishing record with 1713 GDD – up 300 GDD from the previous year.
Smoke from the wildfires resulted in smoke taint for some of the 2021 vintage. Certain wineries chose to not produce any wine at all while others decided to not pick certain varieties due to the possibility of smoke taint. What I learned is that there seems to be a bit of an upside to the smoke – it can act as a layer of protection against the sun and allows grape acidity to be maintained.
Stand-out wines that I enjoyed:
- Township 7 Winery Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2021
- Tightrope Winery Riesling 2021
- Monte Creek Winery Ancient Waters Riesling 2021
- Rocky Creek Winery Pinot Gris 2021
On a personal note, the acoustics in the room were terrible. The panel all had clip-on microphones but their voices were not always well amplified. If I could make a request and suggestion to anyone sitting on a panel in the future, please speak towards the audience – do not speak to the moderator. When you turn your head, you are not being picked up by your microphone. I was one of many frustrated people in the crowd because of this. We all were there to ‘hear’ what the panellists were saying and simply could not.
Thank you to the Wines of British Columbia for inviting me to be a part of this event. I remain confident that the dedicated and passionate winemakers and winery owners in our province will continue to flow with the changing weather patterns and deliver excellent wines for the world to enjoy.