This summer’s intense drought on Vancouver Island is hurting some crops and lowering rivers, but it is also having a remarkably positive effect on this region’s vineyards.
Grapes are bursting from vines in the Cowichan Valley and with continued heat, this could be a very, very good year.
“They like dry climate, they don’t like water. I have noticed bigger healthier grapes, disease-free” said Xavier Bonilla, proprietor of Cherry Point Estate Wines.
The summer’s drought is delivering conditions that Bonilla called prime for his pinot noirs.
“We have the material to make amazing wines. So we have no excuse, our wines have to be world-class wines from now on,” said Bonilla. “It’s going to be a very good year. The challenge now, is not the grape, it is creating and good winemaking.”
Paul Busnardo at nearby Divino Estate Winery agrees.
“You can get some exceptional years and I think this could be one of them,” said Busnardo, manager of Divino Estate Winery, a third-generation family-owned business.
But Busnardo said it’s hard to celebrate knowing that climate change is behind the shift to better grape-growing weather for Vancouver Island’s relatively young wine industry.
“That’s perhaps good for us on the northern climate, we are going to get a little bit of a longer season, a little bit more heat units throughout the year. All it’s going to do is offset some poor guy in the south somewhere who’s going to get too much heat and he can’t grow, he’s going to be in a drought situation,” said Busnardo.
Cowichan vineyards are preparing to welcome wine lovers from far and wide, for the Cowichan Valley Wine Festival that runs the entire month of August.