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Canadian harvest begins

The Canadian harvest started today in Ontario’s Niagara region, the earliest commercial picking there in more than 20 years.

The early season bodes well for the marginal climate, which is notorious for its challenging ripening conditions.

‘The early start will really benefit the Bordeaux red varieties and Pinot Noir,’ Bruce Nicholson, senior winemaker at Inniskillin Wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake told decanter.com.

‘If we get the warm, dry weather as predicted, we’ll see some of the greatest wines out of Niagara on record.’

An early spring in the province spurred budbreak and ripening in April following a moderate winter.

Light frost in May thinned fruit slightly and reduced insect populations, and the warm weather resumed with a hot summer with optimal rainfall.

Yield is expected to be just below average, and the grape quality excellent across the board.

Meanwhile, the ripening season in British Columbia is lagging two weeks behind Ontario.

In BC, an extended winter delayed budbreak. Then a cool, wet spring and summer slowed ripening – Vincor reported no veraison visible in the Okanagan region by the second week of August, when grapes usually show 50% colour.

The condensed season combined with a fall freeze and damage from the 2008/09 winter means a reduced crop.

‘The vintage has been challenging because it has been one of the coolest years on record,’ Keith Brown, vice president of winemaking at Vincor Canada said. ‘But the aromatic whites will be excellent.’

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Written by Carolyn Evans Hammond

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