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Canada’s 2009 harvest starts in Okanagan Valley

Canada kicked off its harvest Tuesday morning with Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estates Winery in British Columbia picking Sauvignon Blanc at 6am Pacific Time. Other wineries in the region will follow suit within days.

‘The fruit looks very good and the vineyards are in great condition. It’s pretty exciting to be quite honest,’ says James Hopper, senior viticulturalist with B.C.’s Mission Hill Family Estate, who starts picking Tuesday.

Derek Kontkanen white winemaker for Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estates agrees. ‘The flavours are there. The sugars are there. This is looking to be a very good vintage.’

This year, a cold winter, cool spring and hot, sunny, dry summer created excellent vineyard conditions in the Okanagan Valley – the largest wine region in the province. And since irrigation is common practice there, low rainfall minimized disease and let wineries control moisture to optimise flavour concentration.

The 2009 growing season has been an improvement over last year, which was hampered by a delayed budbreak followed by a cool and hazy summer.

Although this year’s harvest for the white wines has begun, the reds are a few weeks away but showing well.

‘I tasted the grapes and they are sweet with good potential, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon,’ said Pascal Madevon, vineyard and winery manager for the celebrated Osoyoos-Larose property, which only produces an ultra-premium red Bordeaux blend. He expects to harvest on 1 October, six days earlier than last year.

B.C. has about 3,700 hectares under vine, and is the largest wine region in Canada after Ontario.

Written by Carolyn Evans Hammond

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