Let’s just get this outta the way –Winter 2016/2017 in the Okanagan was a doozy. We ‘suffered’ through colder than average temperatures, more snow days, and higher heating bills. On the upside: this winter saw fewer gray days than normal, with plenty of sunshine to temper the frigid air. But, if you’re anything like me, you’re ready to shake off the frozen cobwebs of winter and welcome spring with open arms. The dark, cold days are behind us and life in the Okanagan will soon burst forth from every nook, cranny, creek, crag, tree limb and vine!
While most of the larger operations remain open year-round, smaller tasting rooms and wine shops have either operated on limited hours, by appointment only, or closed down completely during the winter months. But with the looming spectre of the busy season ahead, the scene is one of careful planning, plotting, and preparation. Visitation to Okanagan wineries is up remarkably year over year, and the so-called “down time” has been used for making sure visitors are treated to yet another exemplary guest experience at our region’s wineries.
The vineyard in winter is deceptively peaceful, as the vines are stoically silent whilst covered in their frosty mantles. In spring, it may appear that not much is going on – but, behind the scenes and inside the production facility, spring-release wines are being tested, sampled, bottled, labelled, and made ready for their vernal debut. I’m dreaming of warm sunshine and sipping thirst-quenching Rose. Right. Now.
While touring over the last several weeks, we’ve noticed vineyard crews methodically pruning vines—a careful process of selecting which formative cordons (or “arms”) will create the basis of this vintage’s harvest. Excess canes are removed, and the remaining cordons will be tied down to a trellis structure, which essentially leaves the overall vine in a “Y” shaped formation.
New shoots will form from the open arms of the secured cordons – and then the magic continues! Bud break in the Valley usually happens in early to mid-April, depending if you’re in the Central Okanagan or down in the South. This is the point at which the new leaves emerge from their cocoons and, with the longer hours of sunlight and warmer days, eventually leads to flowering and the formation of the leaf canopy. It’s all happening!
At Experience Wine Tours, we’ve been developing, growing, and changing, too! Matt & Shannon welcomed twin girls last November, making their son Cooper the best big brother EVER! Our new Sales and Marketing Manager (yours truly) took his position in March, and we’ve added some new faces to our excellent team of passionate, sommelier-trained tour guides. We are also pleased to announce the introduction of several new experiences on our already fabulous Kelowna, Naramata, and South Okanagan tours, as well as the addition of our “Platinum Experience” tours.
Bookings for this season are filling up – whether you are a returning guest, or a new face we can’t wait to meet, we hope you’ll contact us soon to book your Okanagan Wine Country experience.
Spring in the vineyard is shaping up to be epic – we look forward to touring with you this season!
What are you excited to taste this Spring? Are you as ready as we are for patio season?