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As reported by CBC, according to Wine Growers of BC, the BC wine industry is seeing a decline in grape production that could drop by 39-56% this year. Extremely cold temperatures in December are to blame with much of the damage occurring in the South Okanagan – the main wine growing region in the province. Wine Growers of BC CEO, Miles Prodan, said that as a result of extremely frigid conditions, “Up to over half of the grapes will not bear fruit this year and that is obviously a huge concern”.
The extent of the damage has been studied by grapevine physiologist, Ben-Min Chang of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, who reports that “up to 100% of buds are damaged”.
The effects of a bad year may trickle down from growers to BC wine store licensees and their customers as supply can’t meet demand.
With extreme weather events becoming more common, this isn’t the first time extreme weather has raised concerns about grape production in the Okanagan. Miles Prodan told Kelowna Now that there was freezing in December 2021 that caused concerns which ultimately didn’t come to pass. Prodan added that two consecutive years of extreme temperatures is “very tough on vines”. According to the Kelowna Now article, grapevines don’t typically survive temperatures lower than -20° C. This winter, Kelowna and Osoyoos saw temperatures plummet to -25° C.
Early in May 2023, the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Pam Alexis, announced a new Perennial Crop Renewal Program, which “supports producers to remove unproductive, diseased, or unmarketable cultivars and to adopt growing systems that are better suited to environmental conditions and market demands.” The $15 million program is welcome news to BC wine growers.
The program is accepting applications now. Visit https://iafbc.ca/pcrp/ for eligibility criteria and to apply.
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