Friday, December 10, 2010

Sunset Ridge Vineyard in Nakusp

There are others in the Arrow Lakes valley that have a keen interest in viticulture and the best example of this that I know is the Sunset Ridge Vineyard in Nakusp (see link on the links section of the blog). Sunset Ridge is a bed and breakfast run by the Scott family in Nakusp and they have established a small vineyard on their property. The vineyard is approximately 1 acre with just a little less than that planted at this time.

The owner, Jody Scott has had an interest in growing grapes for sometime and while there was really no other vineyard template to follow in this area he has shown he can grow very nice grapes.  He quickly found that the area around Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes Valley would be classified as cool climate viticulture. Scott did some research on cool climate viticulture and found some interesting results from grape vine trials being conducted in Washington State near Mt. Vernon. He also spoke to industry experts on Vancouver Island (also a cool climate viticulture zone) and decided on some varieties of grape vines to try at his location.

He planted his first vines in 2007, these were Marechal Foch and Seigerrebe and has since added several varieties to his vineyard including;
-Foch (own rooted,planted in 2007,2008)
-Siegerrebe (own rooted, planted 2007,2010)
-Pinot Noir ( various early clones ,(own rooted 777 and 777 on rootstock 101-14, clone 667 on 3309,clone Pinot noir Precoce on SO4 for vigor),planted 2007,2008,2009.
-Pinot Gris(on 3309) planted 2008
-Gewurztraminer(on 3309) planted 2008.
-Auxerrois (own rooted)planted 2008.
-St. Laurent (own rooted) 2008.
-Gamay (own rooted) 2008
-Zwiegelt (on 101-14,SO4)2009
-Ortega ( own rooted,on 101-14,SO4) 2009.
-Chardonnay(own rooted)2010.
-Cab Libra (0n 101-14)2008.
-Labelle (own rooted,on 101-14)
-48-05-83 (own rooted ,101-14)
-Petit Milo ( on SO4)2009.

As you can see from the pictures below, his vineyard is doing great. In the spring of 2010, Scott took specialized courses in viticulture through the Okanagan College, where he received a Certificate in Vineyard Management. A introductory level course of vineyard management is comming to Nakusp in March 2011 (click here for details).

Scott believes his degree day accumulation falls between 875 and 1000 and extrapolates this from local and regional data sources. These are conservative estimates and the degree days may be up to 10% more than this. The rainfall at this location is approximately 12-14 inches between April 1st and September 30th and the frost free days are estimated at between 150 and 160 days.

He pulled his first crop of Marechal Foch and Seigerrebe in September 15th, 2009. The Foch had a brix of 22 and ph of 3.2 and the Seigerrebe came in with brix of 20 and ph of 3.7. This year was much cooler and later and the Foch was picked a month later on October 16th at a brix of 20 and ph of 3.3 while Seigerrebe was picked ten days later on September 25th at brix of 19 and ph of 3.2.

In the next few years Scott will be getting a clearer picture of how the other varieties perform at his location.
Scott believs there is potential for expanded viticulture in the Arrow Lakes valley from Nakusp on through to Edgewood (60 km south of Nakusp). Recently Scott and Jerry Botti of Burton (25km south of Nakusp) pioneered the Arrow Lakes Grape Growers Society (ALGGS) to provide a forum for those interested in viticulture in this area to collect and share ideas. The ALGGS is also looking to conduct research by way of further grape vine trials in the region and to define the climate in general in this area as well as variations in climate with the valley region.

Jody Scott can be contacted about the Arrow Lakes Grape Growers Society at;   jbscott(at)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Viticulture Course in Nakusp - March 2011

The Selkirk College in collaboration with Okanagan College are offering a five (5) day course on vineyard management practices.  This introductory level course titled "Cool Climate Viticulture: An Introduction" is being held March 30th-April 3, 2011 (Wednesday to Sunday) 9 am - 4 pm at Selkirk College in Nakusp. 
Contact: Chris Faint (Coordinator, Selkirk College) at 250-265-4077 for further details.

This course will cover the topics of;
*The Grapevine - Grapevine phenology. Annual growth cycle of the vine. Stages of development.
*Grape Varieties & Rootstocks - Species of vines for viticulture. Popular grape varieties, their characteristics and strengths and weaknesses. Considerations when selecting a rootstock. Grafting.
*Vineyard Year - The major vineyard tasks from a management perspective.
*Site Establishment & Propagation - Cool climate considerations and its effect on the vineyard. Site selection. Preparing a site. Methods of propagating grape vines.
*Pruning & Trellising - Aims, timing and principles of pruning. Types of pruning systems. Determining yield through pruning. Choice of training and trellising systems.
*Soils & Nutrition - Suitable soil characteristics for viticulture. Soil nutrition and fertility. Soil management. Cover crop management. Grapevine nutrition.
*Irrigation - Principles of irrigation
*Canopy Management - Canopy microclimate. Canopy management techniques including shoot thinning, bunch thinning and leaf plucking. Assessing the canopy.
*Pest & Diseases - Major pest and diseases affecting grape vines and methods of prevention and control.
*Wine Quality - How quality wines start in the vineyard. Methods of harvesting. Analysis of grape composition and quality.

Field Trip to a local vineyard in Nakusp

Cost: $649 per person

The course is usually offered over a period of several weeks in Kelowna or Penticton this makes attending this course difficult for those who live in the interior.  This is the first time such a course has been offered in Nakusp so if you are at all interested in this topic, or starting your own backyard or commercial vineyard, you absolutely should not miss this course.