BC Vintage 2017 Take Three

This is the third article on BC Wine Vintage 2017.  More notes showing how the innovative winemakers survived the floods and fires to deliver a good to above average harvest.  The Shuswap wineries experienced smoke cover but without the negative impact on yields seen in the Okanagan.

The previous cold winter in the Similkameen Valley meant that the crop levels in 2017 were down from previous years.  We were also able to obtain more winemaker vintage notes for the Vancouver Island and Okanagan Valley.  Now for the details.

Vancouver Island

Dale & Kristi Shortt – Millstone Estate Winery

Millstone WineryIt was cold and wet right up until the end of May and early June. There was a minor problem with powdery mildew on some of the vines. Then a hot summer and we were able to harvest all the fruit by Halloween.  We are expecting the vintage to be below average. We are compensating by making a white blend of Pinot Gris, Ortega and Gwertz.  The Pinot Noir juice quality looks good this year.  We have not picked up any fruit form the Okanagan this year because of the high costs and short supply.

Thompson – Shuswap

Jaime Flemke – Recline Ridge Winery


Recline Ridge WineryThe winter of 2016/17 was very cold and some winter damage was seen in the Siegerrebe vines.  All other vines faired very well.  Winter was followed by heavy spring rains and we were hit twice with hail. Thankfully the vines had not budded out and minimal damage was seen. This was then followed by very dry weather.  The last recorded substantial rain was mid-May. We are not set up for irrigation but our soil is heavy clay with lots of water retaining potential. The majority of the vines are very well established with deep roots and they were able to uptake the moisture held in reserve from the spring rains.

We had a very heavy smoke cover for most of the summer which blocked the UV rays and slowing sugar accumulation and delaying harvest by about 3 weeks. Harvest quality was very good with minimal damage from disease, birds, bees, wasps and bears. As a result, tonnage increased over last year.”

Jesse Steinley – Sunnybrae Vineyards & Winery

This vintage like most was full of challenges from flooding in the spring to a province-wide smokehouse. But as always we pressed onward.  We found that our overall tonnage was about average for our site, with some varietals lower than normal and some flourishing and delivering abundance. Good balance across the board in terms of acidity, sugar, and even the timing of each coming to maturity was spread out and seemed more manageable.  Harvest commenced 1 to 2 weeks later than the previous couple of years, which shows that the smoke-screen must have had a hand in stalling things.

Similkameen Valley

Mike Clark- Clos du Soleil Winery

Mike ClarkVintage 2017 was really distinctive with some interesting twists and turns. It is often the twists and turns that make the wines more interesting. The season started off cooler than the previous several vintages and that was a concern but our total growing degree days ended up being fairly typical and ended up close to the previous vintage. The summer was hot and dry and the harvest was reasonably cool and dry which made the picking conditions excellent. Typical of the Similkameen Valley, disease pressure was very low and our organic-certified vineyard experienced very few problems in this respect.

The previous cold winter in the Similkameen Valley, which does not have a lake to moderate seasonal temperatures, meant that the crop levels in 2017 were down from previous years. The smaller crop ripened well so we are seeing some very intense flavours so far. The cool start and hot summer have shown that the acidity levels are slightly higher than recent vintages. For our style of age-worthy, food-friendly, and elegant wines, this is excellent.  I think that this will make the 2017 vintage (and particularly Signature and Capella) very long-lived as a result.

Okanagan Valley

Robert Thielicke – Lang Vineyards

Lang VineyardsThe vintage started off great in April with an early bud break for us. We also had a minimal amount of rain in June.  The remainder of the summer remained hot without rain. In September and October we had cooler temperatures but again without much rain.  This was ideal for reaching our desired sugar levels. It also helped to produce great phenolics, perfect acidity & flavourful grapes. In my opinion, aromatic Whites and Rose’s will be the stars of the 2017 vintage.  

It’s always difficult to judge a vintage until it’s bottled and aged. However, I feel this year’s wines will be one of the smoothest we have seen in many years due to the hard work of our growers on the Naramata Bench and winemaking in our cellar.

Kane Morgan – Rust Wine Co.

Rust Wine CompanyThe 2017 harvest saw exceptional fruit quality from our vineyards. It was a challenging vintage, however, due to the high humidity levels caused by the smoke. Many producers who were not up on their vineyard maintenance lost fruit to mildew.  Our fruit was beautiful as this was the year that we invested as much as we could in rejuvenating our properties with a focus on quality.

Bruno Kelle & Stella Schmidt – Castoro de Oro Estate Winery

CASTORO DE OROThe 2017 growing season started out slower than most previous years, with a very, very rainy spring. We started to get worried as it was “behind previous years” and we started thinking we were going to need to drop some crop, but then BOOM we had so much sunshine and beautiful heat and no rain from May 16th until October!

The fires didn’t really affect us, we did overhead irrigate a couple of times just to drag down some of the smoke and to clear the grapes and vines of any potential ash coating.  Suddenly, we had our best crop ever.  We believe the Vintage 2017 will be our very best so far.  The grapes were picked at the “exact numbers” and flavours were very impressive, and our yield was fabulous too.