KELOWNA, British Columbia -- The British Columbia Wine Industry, despite 2011 being one of the coolest vintages in its history, reported that tonnage increased by 28 percent over the previous year.
In 2010, there were 17,732 tons harvested. Last year, the total went up to 22,722 tons.
“In spite of the large tonnage increase over last year, the crop levels are actually simply returning to normal industry levels, yielding approximately 80% of the potential crop,” Manfred Freese of Sun Ridge Vineyard in Osoyoos, both the BCWI Director and the B.C. Grapegrowers’ Association Past-President, said in a news release.
Valeria Tait, viticulturalist for Poplar Grove Winery in Naramata, said, “I wasn’t confident we would fully ripen all blocks until [October].”
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Many of the whites from last year's vintage already have hit the market and received acclaim. For example, the Wild Goose Vineyards 2011 Mystic River Gewurztraminer was voted the best white wine at last week's Riverside (Calif.) International Wine Competition.
Sandra Oldfield, winemaker and CEO of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver, said the quality of the 2011 red wines -- many of which won't be released until 2013 -- stems from phenolic ripeness occurring before the grapes reached optimal sugar levels. That allowed winemakers to pick earlier and at lower sugar levels, which resulted in lower alcohol wines with no loss of flavor development, she said.
BCWI executive director Miles Prodan pointed out British Columbians remain loyal in their support of the provincial wines, particularly those receiving Vintners Quality Alliance designation.
“Despite the fact that BC VQA wine sales are slightly down in terms of volume, dollar sales and average purchase prices continue to increase, demonstrating that consumers continue to see the exceptional quality and value of our 100 percent BC VQA wines.”
The crop report was compiled confidentially by BDO Canada LLP, which has produced the report since 2008. Last year, it received information from 119 of the 193 wineries in the province. That accounts for 62 percent participation.
Merlot was the most reported variety at 4,830 tons. Chardonnay ranked No. 2 at 2,481 tons, followed by Pinot Gris (2,331) and Cabernet Sauvignon (1,694).
Pinot Gris had an estimated average price per ton of $1,954, with Chardonnay at $2,016. Icewine Riesling was tops at $2,886 per ton.
Merlot had an average price per ton of $2,371, with Cabernet Sauvignon at $2,470. Tempranillo was the most prized variety at an average of $3,080 per ton, followed by ice wine Pinot Noir ($2,957) and Malbec ($2,945).
*Tonnage reported in short tons. Participation in this survey is voluntary and unaudited, therefore the tonnages and prices reported may differ from actual industry results and are meant as a guide only.