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Cold snap allows Okanagan icewine harvest


January 12, 2012
By The Canadian Press

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frozengrapesJanuary
12, 2012, Kelowna, BC – After dire warnings of a potentially disastrous season,
icewine producers in B.C.’s Okanagan region are feeling the chill – and loving
it.

January
12, 2012, Kelowna, BC – After dire warnings of a potentially disastrous season,
icewine producers in B.C.’s Okanagan region are feeling the chill – and loving
it.

Temperatures
dropped as low as -12 C early Jan.11 
and, coupled with no snow, conditions were perfect to begin plucking
frozen grapes.

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frozengrapes 
  

Twenty-six
wineries planned to produce icewine this winter, with the crop estimated at 875
tons – the most on record, says the B.C. Wine Institute.

In West
Kelowna, winery proprietor Steve Dale had as many as 16 headlamp-wearing
pickers working between 11 p.m. Jan 10 and 6 a.m. Jan. 11, taking advantage of
a cold snap that arrived in the nick of
time.

“It was
a dismal harvest this year,” he said. “We had just a terrible year, but we got
about 550 litres of Pinot Gris and about 90 litres of Chardonnay.”

Dale
said there should have been three to four times the volume, but it was a cool
summer.

“That
hailstorm in August decimated a big chunk of our crop, and then the hanging
time until now. The birds got unbelievable amounts, probably 70 per cent.”

The
harvest was the first opportunity to get Okanagan icewine grapes out of the
field since overnight temperatures dropped to –11 C for a short time in mid-November.

“We did
have to wait longer than we liked to,” said Dale, whose vineyard was one of the
few to take advantage of the unexpectedly early freeze in November.

Dale
started producing icewine in 2004, and recorded his leanest harvest in 2005, “so
this isn’t the worst year,” he said.

He
usually produces about 1,000 litres of white icewine, but new plantings should
increase that.


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