With the province’s grape harvest set to begin in earnest, a glance at a summary of the 2018 harvest from the BC Wine Grape Council reveals growing diversification in the province’s grape crop.
The report notes that more that 42,732 tons were harvested in 2018, split almost evenly between red grapes (21,332 tons) and white grapes (21,400 tons).
Merlot is the province’s top grape, with 7,957.5 tons harvested last year, or 18.6% of the total crop. Pinot Gris (4,540) and Chardonnay (4,275 tons) took second and third place, respectively. Together, the three varieties account for more than 39% of the BC crush.
But there’s a host of newcomers on the latest survey, a sign that growers are not only becoming more confident but also responding to the challenges – and potential – of a changing climate and warmer growing seasons.
While none have broken into the top 25 varieties harvested in the province, some have been grown in small quantities for years. The early ripening grape Agria has been planted in small quantities on Vancouver Island and the north Okanagan. The northern Italian variety Dolcetto has been embraced by Stag’s Hollow Winery in Okanagan Falls and Moon Curser Vineyards in Osoyoos.
Moon Curser has also taken up with Touriga Nacional, another of the notable varieties new to the BCWGC crop report, which is also tracking Petit Sirah and the Italian variety Nebbiolo.
The rarity of the varieties often means they fetch top dollar, though the province’s most expensive grape variety is Grenache, at $3,321 a ton, followed by Tempranillo at $3,252 a ton and Syrah at $3,182 a ton.