Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, September 24 2020

BC Grape Harvest 2020

By: Anthony Gismondi
Follow the grapes in eight regions across our province.

The 2020 grape harvest across British Columbia is complete with only a few red fermentations yet to be pressed off.

We hope you have enjoyed our forays into the vineyards on picking days and the chance to stand inside the ropes on the crush pad. We have learned a lot from winemakers who graciously gave us a few minutes of their time at the most crucial point of the growing season. We will all know more about the wines next spring, but by all accounts, a smaller than average harvest, exhibiting outstanding flavours, has left us with a very favourable impression of what is to come in the bottle. While Mother Nature is busy preparing the landscape for winter, you can sit back and enjoy our eight-part series chronicling the end of a high-quality year that will surely be dubbed "The Pandemic Vintage." 

Tantalus Vineyards - East Kelowna 

Our final video takes us to southeast Kelowna's uplands to some of the oldest (planted in 1978)  riesling vines in Canada. Originally known as Pioneer Vineyards, the site was first planted to table grapes in 1927. Winemaker David Paterson interrupted his busy morning on the crush pad to give us a peek at this year's old vine riesling pick. We also get a brief update on the important progress of the East Kelowna sub-Geographical Indication as the North Okanagan begins to stake out its true cool-climate terroir as some of the best in the country. 

Meyer Family Vineyards - Okanagan Falls

Jak and Janice Meyer have struck gold in Okanagan Falls, where they run a premium small estate winery focused on pinot noir and chardonnay. We arrived just in time for the pinot noir harvest and managed to catch up with Jak Meyer, and rarely seen, or interviewed, winemaker Chris Carson. The pair talk to us about the 2020 growing season and harvest from the centre of the home block McLean Creek Road Vineyard on a blustery, dry, autumn day. We also get some insight into Carson’s hands-off, non-interventionist winemaking style that has vaulted Meyer Vineyards into the top echelon of British Columbia pinot producers.

O'Rourke Family Estate - Lake Country
One of the region's newest wineries is located near historic Carrs Landing, some 35 minutes north of Kelowna. We catch up with winemaker Nikki Callaway on the newly minted crush as she jostles with construction workers and enlists some to help with the on-going pinot noir harvest. She also gives us a tour of the new facility both above and underground.

Orofino Vineyards - Similkameen Valley

John and Virginia Weber took a chance on the wild Similkameen Valley two decades ago, and ever since, they have been exploring its unique meso-climates and micro-terroirs in search of authenticity and wines that celebrate their place of origin. We caught up with them on a sunny, cool, windy morning as their loyal crew readied to pick the cabernet sauvignon at Passion Pit Vineyard.  

Howling Bluff Estate Winery - Naramata Bench

Winemaker Luke Smith stands in his Century Block pinot noir vineyard, offering a closer look at his 2020 crop, which looks very good due to a Goldilocks kind of growing season.

Blue Grouse Estate Winery & Vineyard - Cowichan Valley

Under beautiful sunny skies hedged with a bit Salish Sea fog, and a harvest of one of their pinot gris blocks as a backdrop, owner Paul Brunner and winemaker Bailey Williamson offer insights into the unique soils and the 2020 harvest in the Cowichan Valley.

Checkmate Artisanal Winery - South Okanagan

Checkmate is perched on the Golden Mile Bench, just south of Oliver in the Okanagan Valley. We catch up with winemaker and general manager Phil McGahan on the crush pad, where he takes us on a tour of the historic site, inside and out. The winery has undergone a complex renovation, begun not long after it was purchased in 2012 by Anthony von Mandl from the founding Combret family. 

Fort Berens Estate Winery – Lillooet

We begin in the newly-minted GI of Lillooet, at Mile Zero of the Gold Rush Trail, on the Fraser River's edge, an hour and a half north of Whistler and three and a half hours north of Vancouver. Our guide is a partner and co-manager Rolf de Bruin of Fort Berens Estate Winery. He speaks to us from one of the vineyards from which they purchase grapes, called "Fraser Bench," a small family-owned vineyard, just a few kilometres down the Fraser River, on the opposite shore from Fort Berens. 

Written By: ag
Anthony Gismondi
Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi is a Canadian wine journalist and one of North America's most influential voices in wine. For over 30 years, he has been the wine columnist for The Vancouver Sun. The twice-weekly column is distributed across Canada through Postmedia Network to millions of readers. In addition, Anthony co-hosts the BC Food & Wine Radio Show, broadcast in 18 markets across B.C. and available as a podcast on Spotify, Apple and iHeart Radio and more. He launched Gismondionwine.com in 1997, attracting one million users a month from 114 countries. It continues to be a valuable resource of full tasting notes and intelligent wine stories and videos for the trade and consumers.