Island winemakers optimistic about the year as grape harvest starts

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WatchDespite a colder and wetter start to the growing season, Island winemakers say it's turned out to be a great year as they begin to harvest.

It’s harvest time for Vancouver Island wineries, and though the season was off to a wet and chilly start, some vintners are optimistic that this could be one of their best vintages yet.

This week was the first week of the harvest at Cherry Point Winery in Cobble Hill.

Arnie Joe is picking for his fourth year and he’s enjoying this unusual stretch of summer heat in the fall.

“It’s good right now,” said Joe.

“Nice and warm.”

The farm’s harvest of its 22 acres is expected to last three to four weeks.

The grape crop has turned out better than expected with recent warm dry weather after a colder, wetter start this year.

“The growing season did not start very well and I was a little bit pessimistic but now lately everything turned around and the grapes have rebounded positively,” said Xavier Bonilla, Cherry Point Estate Wines owner.

The Cherry Point Winery has established a track record of creating winning wines over the years and their 13 grape varieties are showing promise for another great year.

“Yes, I’ve been tasting the grapes and it’s looking like a beautiful Ortega,” said Maria Bonilla.

“It’s a good year for Ortega. [It] has developed very good sugars and this is why we decided to harvest today and a very nice acidity which is especially what we really want,” said Xavier.

Other varieties need more time to ripen such as pinot noir grapes but the timelines will depend on the weather.

“Usually, in other sciences, you make decisions based on complete information. Not in agriculture,” said Xavier.

And as winemakers know adapting to the season and figuring out the best blends is what will help wines standout — an effort they hope will help as Covid-19 changes life dramatically.

“Cowichan Valley produces some beautiful wines and products that will somehow help all the families move on in this uncertain future,” said Xavier.

It’s hoped the labour and love will be savoured by families as they spend time together during the upcoming holidays.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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