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2017 seemed to be a study in contrasts, following the super early onset of the 2016 growing season. Following one of the whitest winters we can remember with tons of late winter and early spring snowfall, budbreak in the vineyard and blossom in orchards tracked typical to late, but seemed super late following the insanely early onset of 2016. Blossom started in our apricots on April 25th, in cherries May 9th and budbreak in the vineyards shortly thereafter.
The spring brought pronounced precipitation. Close to record setting in April and May in Naramata, slowing development in the vineyard and orchard considerably. Lake Okangan hit levels that it never has before, and our bins were put to use by neighbors desperately trying to keep docks in place while lake levels rose. Perhaps the most graphic example of the extreme nature of weather up to this point in 2017, occurred during the last weekend of June when we watched the forest service workers sandbag lakeshore. The next week the province exploded with the Elephant Hill Wildfire … it didn’t rain for 75 days straight … another near record.
The effect of the extreme water followed by heat meant for an intense (and smoke-filled) July and August. Cherries come first and were back again in tonnage after a tough 2015. Harvest began on July 19, and fruit quality was good. Apricots came very shortly thereafter beginning on July 26th, with tonnage down from a heavy set in 2016. Next in came raspberries on August 7th, with juice yield up and sugars down slightly, likely an effect of the spring rain. Black currants came in on August 18th and Crab Apples were picked off our Peanut Farm simultaneously. It was around this point of harvest that we began to note the effect of 0 rainfall and very high temperatures since the end of June. Crab Apples ripened quickly and showed intense color and flavor. Pears too came in early, with the first bins being picked Sept 3rd.
In the midst of our Orchard portfolio harvest, veraison in the vineyard set in early, with the first signs appearing around the 6th of August. Early verasion plus the potentially explosive combination of excess moisture and sudden hot weather generating humid conditions in the vineyard kept our crew on their toes to spot infection and pests. Grapes proceeded to ripen quite quickly with all the hot weather and the vineyard crew was kept extremely busy with tucking and bunch thinning.
Grape harvest began September 25th with of all things, Merlot at our Sideshow Hill Vineyard, and was followed shortly thereafter followed by Cab Franc on the Peanut Farm site. Uncharacteristically, the whites came in after the reds and harvest wrapped with our Chardonnay pick on October 24th. The long, hot summer produced smaller berries with intense flavor. The vineyard cropped itself fairly low this year which will mean smaller production out of the 2017 vintage and also translates into lots of rich fruit, complexity and generous concentration.
Snow and -17 hit the valley November 4th, making for a cold week of processing apples, which thankfully we got off the trees in advance.
Overall the quality of all the fruits came in beautifully, and in particular the later ripening – crab apples through to our grapes showed concentrated flavor development and sugars, likely the effect of the extremely dry summer conditions.
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November 16, 2017