Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Departs With Damaging Cold (But Not For Us)

We rarely see cold in the -23c area, in fact up until a few days ago we've only seen these temperatures 2 times in the past 14 years - now its 3 times. On December 27th we got a cold blast that took us to the -23c zone and the entire region was blanketed with the bone chilling cold. That temperature is ok for us, but some other areas in the Okanagan were not spared and endured colder temperatures down to -27c and added wind chill values as low as -38c. For us -23c is not a critical temperature as nearly all our commercial varieties have good cold tolerance to about -27c or colder but still we prefer a bit warmer winter for both the vines and our sake.

For most vinifera varieties like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot etc., -23c is kind of the make it or break it zone as these varieties don't have much cold tolerance beyond -23c. So this is bad news for some grape growing areas in BC. Kamloops was in a deep freeze for a few days in the -27c zone as was Kelowna showing -27c on both December 27th and December 28th and wind chill values in Kamloops were -38c and Kelowna -34c. That's not good and some bud, if not trunk, damage can be expected but we will hope for the best for those out there as you really never know what this all means until the spring comes.


Lots of winter ahead of us yet and about 1 foot of snow on the ground so far, the big snow usually comes in January-February. We are hoping for milder winter temperatures to take us into spring and if -23c is as cold as we get then we are good.

As we end 2021 we reflect on the challenging year for weather in BC, -24c cold in February, -2c record breaking frost in late May, record breaking +46c heat in early July, forest fire threats in July and August, record breaking rain and destruction in November and now -23c in December....but we also look forward to the new year and the next growing season with excitement.

Hoping for a better year in 2022 and wishing everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Harvest 2021

I think we will remember 2021 as a very challenging year. It started in February with a -24.5c cold blast that damaged buds on many varieties, to a record late spring frost in May that killed about 30-40% of the crop and some vines. The image below shows several buds that were killed by the frost.

What we learned though was some of our varieties are quite fruitful on the secondary buds...the image above shows the primary bud that was killed by the frost but then the secondary bud just below it growing nicely and showing 3 flower clusters emerging.

Then five weeks later we had records of 46c temperatures in July that killed some of the crop and damaged the fruit, which later led to fungal pressure on the grapes. The intense heat split the grapes that were exposed to the sun while the shaded side was fine. Same cluster below shade side and sun side.

The intense heat brought forest fire pressures a few weeks later and forest fires very close to the vineyard but the winds changed in time and our area was spared. We got some rain in mid-August that helped suppress the fires

The heat also led to a very serious forest fire threats and many mitigation efforts on our part, but also the fire displaced many animal and the scourge of them getting into the vineyard and eating the grapes (birds, gophers, skunks, raccoons, and bears) despite the netting.

In the end what we harvested was well ripened and we recorded the most heat over the season at over 1100 DDG over 160 frost free days and we also planted about 3000 row feet of new vines.

 We also lucked out with nice weather through harvest. We will post the final ripeness and climate data in a few weeks.

 Already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Planting New Vines from Spring Cuttings

In the spring I blogged about growing grape vines from cuttings for fall planting. You can go back to the previous blog to see how the cuttings progressed from May to present, - here is the May 2021 post and here is the June 2021 post

We grow the cuttings in a 1 foot x 1 foot container in 2 inch by 2 inch sleeves. This gives us 36 vines per square foot incubator. The propegation rate was approximately 75% and would have been higher but we lost probably 10% due to the intense 44c heat we had in early July. However, of the cuttings that did grow into vines, we only planted out the best vines from each group. The result is about 65% of the cuttings were strong enough with big enough roots to move into the field. The other ones that were smaller and weaker are going to be left in the incubator and grown bigger next year and will be planted out in the field next fall.

In mid September the vines had achieved good growth over the summer and were ready to move from the nursery to the field. Here is a picture of the group of vines that have been extracted from the incubator. The roots are somewhat tangled and have to be gently separated. Once separated they can be planted in the ground. 

This picture below shows the both the top growth and root growth of the vine that occurred from the cutting planted in may. All in all we planted out 1500 row feet this past week and we have another 1500 row feet to get planted in the next few weeks. Next spring we will plant 3000 more row feet of vines.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Fires are Holding

 Truely amazing how fast things change from a few small fires in the distance that were not really a threat to massive fires just a few kilometers away and evacuation.

In the past few days winds have bern in our favour and the fires have not advanced much and fire crews have been able to fortify defences. So we are downgraded to evacuation alert.

We were able to come back and first priority is clearing a bigger perimeter around the buildings. Going to miss those nice trees around the house but weve got lots fire wood for next year.

It is still very smoky and you can barely see the trees on the next hill and lots of ash falling ..can see it on the truck canopy and the vines.

On the bright side the grapes are comming along pretty good with some approaching bunch closure so they will be turning colour soon. And there is a possibility of rain in the next week so we hope for a good soaker and no lightning.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Forest Fires Are Threatening

 Arrow Lakes Vineyard is located in the central Kootenays of British Columbia. Logging is the primary vocation in the area and the vineyard was carved out of a forested area and for the most part the entire region is forested. 

This year like so many in the recent past has seen threat of forest fires but this year is different as we have fires all around us. Just 7 days ago a few small fires started due to lightning strikes in remote areas and in such a short time the have each grown into huge fires over 3000 hectares and moved quickly to become threatening. There is a huge fire just a few kms away across Arrow Lakes. We have another big one to the south about 15km that is slowly coming up the lake shore towards the vineyard. And we have a new fire started from lighting strike about 12km to the north of the vineyard. Here is a picture of the fire on the east side of Arrow Lakes and a map view of the two big fires.

The area including the vineyard is under evacuation order. Our thoughts go out to our friends and neighbors and those displaced from the fires and the police and fire responders.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Grapes are Looking Good

 Most spectacular spectrum of weather weve had this year breaking records for cold in May and heat in June. The first 2 weeks into July have continued the hot trend with day time temperatures ranging from 32c to 37c. This is very high heat for our location and has brought the grapes along very quick. 

We are about 1 week ahead of normal now and with this high heat having good moisture is importants and weve lucked out with a few big down pours of rain in early July. Pretty good conditions so far and we should see these turning red in early August.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Bloom Time and Fruit Set

 Its June 24th and we went from May as one of the coolest Mays we've recorded in 13 years to June which is comming in as one of hottest Junes in 13 years. 

Really quite remarkable that the vines have comecalong so fast and now are into bloom with some varieties at the end and others just getting started.

The Castel and Leon Millot are just finishing and many clusters have fruit set. The Marechal Foch and L'Acadie Blanc are 50-75% through bloom and the Evangeline and Petite Milo are just getting started.

Here is how they look,


Leon Millot


Marechal Foch

L'Acadie Blanc

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Starting Grape Cutting - update

 So we started the cuttings outside at the beginning of May..see the link to the earlier blog. The cuttings leafed out and were growing well but we had a nasty frost and several of the new buds got damaged.

What surprised me was how the cuttings kept pushing more secondary buds and the vines have lots of leaves popping. 

Checking to see if there is root development and the Foch is looking great (photo). I expect yge others are doing well too. 

Once those roots get to be about 3-4 inches, the shoots will really start to grow and they will be well on thier way. With any luck we'll get those new vines out into the vineyard by the end of July.

First Signs of Flowering

 From cold May to warm June and just like that the vines have caught up to where they should be and are on track for bloom in the last week of June.

Some flowers clusters show signs of bloom on the way with an occasional single flower in bloom - like the Marechal Foch seen here. Most are 7-14 days away to bloom yet.

The growth has been strong and significant rain in June which is good as the long range forcast looks like hot and dry weather on the way.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Secondary Buds Are Fruitful

So I mentioned in the last blog about the frost we had. It killed alot of the crop we had comming - thank goodness we dont get those very often.

Often what happens after that primary bud is killed by the frost is that the secondary bud grows. In fact even with out a frost its common for many varieties to push out both the primary and secondary buds which turn into 2 shoots from the same node.

This is where crop adjustment happens and if you have both the primary and secondary bud growing into shoots then you go along the rows and pull off all those secondaries.

Generally speaking the secondary buds are not fruitful but some varieties, particularly the hybrids, often have fruitful secondary buds. That is worth noting is the capacity of some vines to still produce a crop on the secondary buds.

Usually the crop is much smaller on secondary buds but its better than nothing. This is one thing I like about the hybrids we grow. Lots of them can produce a decent crop on the secondary bud. The photo above is L'Acadie Blanc and you can see the primary bud/shoot died from the frost but the secondary is growing and fruitful with two visible flower clusters. Its a bit behind where we should be for growth but there is lots of time to catch up.

Foch and Leon Millot will produce on secondary buds as well.