Wine Growers British Columbia (WGBC) has released the annual BC Wine Grape 2021 Vintage Report, which reveals another harvest of impressive quality achieved through expert vineyard management during a record-shattering year for wine regions across the province.
Overall, winegrowers throughout British Columbia agree that despite the vagaries of Mother Nature, the 2021 vintage will be remembered for low yields but intensely flavoured fruit resulting in wines of remarkable character, concentrated flavours, and balanced acidity. The intricacies of such a one-of-a-kind growing season are best reviewed in detail in the full report, with data sourced from industry participants at WGBC’s annual Winemakers and Viticulturists Forum and Vintage Survey.
BC Wine Grape Vintage Report 2021 Highlights
In the Okanagan Valley, an already hot and dry summer was punctuated by a heat dome which settled on the area from the end of June through early July. These conditions contributed to the lower than anticipated yield in some varieties and vineyards, but also presented a silver lining of low disease pressure and exciting quality of fruit.
While wildfires were a notable occurrence in the Okanagan Valley and surrounding regions, the majority of BC winegrowers observed that the higher, thinner smoke cover did not negatively impact the grapes.
“The 2021 wines are tasting delicious. Whites have some tension, lots of flavours and concentration. The rosé wines are really fruity and have a nice backbone of natural acidity. The reds, while maturing slower for some of the varieties, are showing nice full ripe tannins and lots of vibrant fruits,” says Severine Pinte, Winemaker/Viticulturist and Managing Partner for Le Vieux Pin Winery and LaStella Winery. “Despite the challenges Mother Nature threw at us,” she says.
The Similkameen Valley experienced very similar conditions to the neighbouring Okanagan Valley, including an early and compacted harvest challenged further by staffing shortages felt in multiple industries. It is a testament to the passion and dedication of BC grapegrowers that no negative impact on production was reported.
In the face of weather and staffing obstacles, this observation from Charlie Baessler, Winemaker/Owner of Corcelettes Estate Winery is echoed throughout BC wine country: “with quantities down we just wish we had more fruit!”.
“The 2021 wines are tasting delicious… despite the challenges Mother Nature threw at us.” – Severine Pinte
All the BC interior regions were reached by the summer heat dome, recording higher than average growing degree day levels. The hot weather certainly impacted yields, with crops down as much as 30-40% in most varieties, however the wines maintained a nice balance. “Overall, the wines have a bit more phenolics due to the heat and intense, ripe flavours, but they’ve kept the crisp, refreshing acidity…” says Wes Johnson, Winemaker/Owner of Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery in the Kootenays.
The coastal regions, which typically experience cooler, wetter conditions, report “one of the hottest growing seasons on record” says Bailey Williamson, Winemaker at Blue Grouse Estate Winery in the Cowichan Valley, “a few more growing degree days make a huge difference” he said.
Temperatures required for the production of BC Icewine (-8C) occurred mid-December and wineries intending to vinify the frozen fruit collectively brought in just 35 tonnes, the lowest yield on record. Though Icewine from 2021 may then be considered a rare commodity, Late Harvest yields reached an estimated 101 tonnes.
The BC Wine Grape Vintage Report is available to BC wine lovers and industry professionals alike and an essential tool to understand and promote the exceptional wines that came from the eventful 2021 growing season. Read the full BC Wine Grape 2021 Vintage Report here.
*Source: Wine Growers British Columbia