Penticton-area wineries feeling thrilled so far with flavourful outlook for grape harvest

Wine crops looking great

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Chris Holler of Poplar Grove Winery is one happy farmer.

With the grape harvest in full swing across the Okanagan, he took a few minutes – in the middle of a vineyard while out picking Pinot Gris – to explain why he’s feeling so positive.

“It’s October, it’s 25 degrees, the sun is shining and harvesters are happy to not be picking in the rain!”, he laughs. “This is going to be another great vintage.”

Chris, who wears many hats at the winery but, first and foremost, is a farmer, has already brought in the white wine grapes, about two weeks earlier than projected, in part due to the heat dome than descended upon the valley earlier in the summer.

While there is less tonnage this year and the extreme heat wasn’t great for the plants, it was good for the grapes themselves. This growing season has resulted in concentrated flavours, which he also expects in the reds. This vintage will see Poplar Grove’s first Pinot Noir, destined right now for a rosé.

Winemaker Scott Robinson at Little Engine Wines shares his excitement for this vintage too, noting that the extreme heat felt here was something not uncommon in Australia. He previously worked several vintages Down Under.

Speaking of ‘under’, he showed off the winery’s new barrel room. Holding 300 barrels, it sits in the cool ground underneath the winery’s new extended patio space, which is currently occupied by equipment to process this year’s crop.

“The patio has just been amazing this year,” he says. Another patio just off the tasting room will soon be enclosed and will host tastings in 2022, made possible as Scott has more space to work on the wine, including a second crush pad and an elevated platform for a gravity fed basket press.

“Last year we had some of the best flavours, and this year the whites are looking great. Nice acidity with the lifted fruit profile the Okanagan is known for,” says Scott.

A refreshed space is in the works for the Time Family of Wines in downtown Penticton, including moving the cellar into the current parking lot, elevating the tasting room – literally – to the second floor, and making plans for a rooftop patio.

Time has evolved this year – pun intended – with new labels for its bottles of Evolve, and the addition of the Chronos line of wines.

“It felt like a good time for a refresh,” says general manager Christa-Lee McWatters. “You’ll see circles everywhere weaving together to create magical moments. We are all excited to see these changes ‘evolve’.”

New fall menus at the bistro are out now, and the bistro itself has begun transforming into a new epicurean space called Orolo.

And as for the grapes?

“The fruit is looking fantastic, excellent quality, and even though the berry sizes are a bit smaller the flavours are intense,” says Christa-Lee.

It may be a smaller vintage this year, so you’ll want to snap it up as soon as 2021 bottles are available.

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