A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BC WINE FARMER
BC’s thriving wine industry attracts talented winemakers from across Canada and around the world.
Each of these trained professionals has brought his or her knowledge, passion and fresh ideas to our wine
communities helping to shape an identity and style unique to British Columbia.
In the spring, the vines begin to wake after their winter hibernation. New leaves form and by May new buds emerge. Budbreak is the start of the annual growing season. Though the weather is warming, the chance of a spring frost is always on the mind of the viticulturists as these new buds would easily be damaged and lost for the season.
At the end of spring and into early summer, the grape flowers form and are fertilized. Once fertilized, the flower begins the transformation into a grape, also known as fruit-set. During this time, the weather is critical as poor elements ̶ freezing temperatures, hail, excessive rain ̶ could reduce the fruit-set. In mid-summer, grape clusters appear on the vines and the vine’s canopy is abundant. In order to create optimal conditions for ripening, vineyard staff may start to remove unwanted leaves to allow more exposure to sunlight and will begin to remove fruit from the vines that did not set properly. Commonly referred to as “dropping fruit”.
It’s time for those grapes to meet their maker! The grapes will continue to hang on the vines until the winemakers and viticulturists determine that they are ready to be harvested, waiting for optimal sugar and phenolic ripeness, which means any noticeably bitter flavours have softened. Once the grapes are ready, harvest begins! Typically, this will begin in mid-August and can last into early October.
In most wine producing regions, winter is a time for rest. Once harvest is completed, the vines lose their leaves and go into dormancy. Cellars are full of wines resting in tanks or barrel waiting to be bottled. In the vineyard, crews may prune last year’s growth as the grapevines get ready for the new season.
Winter also means Icewine! Although winter is a time for rest for most wineries in BC, some ten to 25 wineries each year produce the liquid gold known as Icewine. To make this renowned treat, vintners must wait until the temperatures plunge below -8°C (17.6°F) before they can harvest the frozen grapes. This can happen any time from November to February.