Snow means 'controlled chaos' at local winery

Rushing vineyard harvest

With the sudden snow last week, Harper's Trail is pushing to get all their grapes off the vine, and should meet that goal thanks to help from the community.

Winemaker and vineyard manager Sebastien Hotte says they still have half their vineyard to finish, but things are going well.

While the snow instigated the quick harvest, it's the upcoming weather that has him more concerned.

Environment Canada is calling for warmer weather later this week which could lead to disease.

"Once it gets below zero the plants go into dormancy, so there's no point in leaving them on vine," says Hotte.

To help out the winery put a call out on social media for paid help. They received dozens of calls, and yesterday almost two dozen people showed up to help out.

"We have an army today," he adds.

He figures the lack of work for some people due to COVID-19 may have meant more willing hands at the vineyard.

It also helps that the work is naturally socially-distanced, as each row of vines is a couple of metres away, so people can work and chat but stay two metres apart. 

And while many might not relish working outdoors in a snowy vineyard, others seem to relish it.

"It’s a nice activity," says Hotte. "And a way for people to discover what we do here."

However, it's a multi-day job, and with flurries expected today he thinks they may have to take a day off from picking. Currently they have about half the grapes off the vines.

The haul from the vines this year appears to be good, he adds. While they got a late start because of a cool and damp spring (Hotte notes rain is worse than snow), warmer weather also stuck around later than usual.

And while the harvest this year is "controlled chaos," he adds that it's always a chaotic time.

"There’s always concerns, but it will be fine."

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