- Image: Grant Stoven                                Ezra Cipes of Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

- Image: Grant Stoven Ezra Cipes of Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

The Okanagan ice wine harvest isn’t looking so hot

With spring being just around the corner, ice wine makers are hoping for a cold snap

Winery owners around the Okanagan are crossing their fingers and hoping temperatures will drop so they can harvest ice wine grapes.

Ezra Cipes, CEO of Summerhill Pyramid Winery, said the winery has been making ice wine since 1991 and only had one year—1993—where ice wine couldn’t be made due to warm temperatures.

But this winter has made it difficult for harvesters.

“Here in Kelowna, it didn’t get to the required -8 C, not on our farm. It got to -7.5 C for four hours,” Cipes said. “We haven’t picked anything, We have 12 acres (of grapes) hanging, a little in Lake Country, a little in Oliver and a little at our home block here in Kelowna, and they are all waiting.”

READ MORE: Icewine harvest begins for some Okanagan wineries

“We’re adding extra clips and extra nets. There are deer and racoons and other animals that want to come and eat the grapes and we’re doing our best to secure them and keep them in the vineyards,” he said.

If the grapes can’t be harvested for ice wine, they’ll be harvested at the beginning of March to create another wine, Cipes said. While some Okanagan wineries began their harvest in mid-December, freezing temperatures didn’t last long, according to a Wines of British Columbia news release.

Last year saw the earliest start to the ice wine harvest in 10 years.

READ MORE: Cold temperatures means early ice wine

“Ice wine is really specific. It’s about the purity of the fruit, the essence of the fruit coming out because the water is frozen and in this case, the grape (when it hasn’t been harvested) is dried out and has changed quite a bit, so it’s a different character,” Cipes said.

There’s always a risk for wineries to make ice wine as it’s difficult to produce.

“Ice wine is a ridiculous thing to make, even in a sort of a ‘normal year’… and it’s risky and expensive and you get a very small yield. Part of the prestige of the product is the extremes you have to go through to make it, so missing a harvest and not getting it in a year is part of the appeal and the value is the ice wine. It’s part of the deal, you don’t know if you’re going to get it,” Cipes said.

“The vineyards are the only ones in the Okanagan Valley praying for very cold weather. Everyone else is happy.”

He estimated about 42 tonnes of grapes are waiting to be harvested, but that number was determined at the start of the season. The crop diminishes over the season as it’s eaten by animals, drops off the vines and dries up.

This is historically the end of the time for ice wine grape harvesting.

”(It will be) late ice wine harvest, if we get one, but we know since 1993 it’s possible to not get one,” said Cipes. ” We know this has happened, I don’t want to jinx us, but we might be due to miss a harvest.”

Kelowna’s forecast for the next week is expected to be sunny with periods of snow and a high of 3 C. The lowest temperatures are expected to be reached next Tuesday, with a high of just -2 C.

The winery sells four types of ice wine: Ehrenfelser Icewine, Library Series Merlot Icewine, Merlot Icewine and Zweigelt Icewine. They range in price from just under $100 to $170.

“Unlike other ice wine-producing regions of Canada and the world that experience these cold climatic conditions each year, ice wine harvest in B.C. is a rarity. The Okanagan Valley and Similkameen Valley are the only wine regions to regularly experience these temperatures in B.C., but it is never a guarantee. Producers wait in anticipation each year for temperatures to drop, not knowing if or when they will have a window of opportunity to complete an ice wine harvest that vintage,” BC Wine institute said.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A GoFundMe page has been launched for a Vernon man whose BX orchard property home off Pleasant Valley Road near Stickle Road was totally destroyed in a fire Saturday, April 17. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Fundraising campaign launched for Vernon man who lost home to fire

A GoFundMe page has been started by family; man taken to hospital with injuries from fire

Armaan Dhaliwal hands a cheque for $500 to Shuswap Hospital Foundation president Angie Spencer as his proud grandparents Gordie and Nancy Dhaliwal watch on Friday, April 16. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm boy’s samosa sales benefit hospital foundation

Armaan Dhaliwal was able to give the Shuswap Hospital Foundation a $500 donation

School District 83 trustees are expected to be discussing the current Long Range Facilities Plan options at the April 20 school board meeting. (File photo)
Letter: Let the people have their say on Salmon Arm school options

Parent encourages School District 83 board to hold off on making a decision

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are locked in stiff competition with the Vernon Vipers and West Kelowna Warriors in their BCHL bubble. (File photo)
Salmon Arm Silverbacks adapting to packed pod season schedule

The team is locked in tough competition with the Vernon Vipers and West Kelowna Warriors.

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Firefighters battled a burning home on farmland in the north end of Vernon Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Homeowner taken to hospital after Vernon home destroyed by fire

Firefighters engaged in a lengthy battle against the engulfed structure Saturday afternoon

Members of the Okanagan Screen Arts Society received a cheque for $1,500 Thursday, April 15, 2021. The funds are to help the society’s efforts as they prepare take over operation of the Vernon Towne Cinema at the end of July. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Okanagan dealership gives local cinema a lift

Vernon Watkin Motor Ford, in business for more than 100 years, donated to the theatre with nearly as long a history

Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over in surgical unit of Vernon hospital

The outbreak affected four staff, 10 patients and led to three deaths in just over two weeks

A group of youth in Kelowna's Knox Mountain Park are suspected as having violated the B.C. Wildlife Act by harassing a pair of nesting bald eagles with a drone Friday, April 16, 2021. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Nesting bald eagles harassed by youth-piloted drone in Kelowna

Conservation Officers are hoping to hear from anyone who witnessed the Knox Mountain incident

Most Read