With the grape harvest getting underway in the Okanagan, an analysis of last year’s crop for the BC Wine Grape Council sets the stage for what growers will be picking this fall.
Plantings have been expanding in BC in recent years, with some growers pushing into new, higher-elevation locations for cool-climate vines. Those acres yielded 35,568 tons of grapes in 2019, down from a reported tonnage in 2018 of 42,732.
White varieties accounted for 51% of the harvested tonnage in 2019, but the most-picked grape in BC last year was Merlot at 6,376 tons, or 18% of the total. Pinot Gris is in second place with 12%, while Chardonnay follows in third place with more than 9%. While there’s a growing following for Pinot Noir from BC wineries, it commands just 8% of the BC crop to rank fourth.
Cabernet Sauvignon, a mainstay of Napa and wineries in neighbouring Washington, is a smaller player in BC. It holds just 6% of the harvested tonnage at 2,149 tons.
Cabernet is one of the most valuable grapes in the province, however, with an average price last year of $3,041 a ton. It ranks third among red grapes behind Carmenere ($3,214 a ton) and Malbec ($3,183 a ton). The most expensive grape in the province, however, is Marsanne, which commanded an average of $3,651 a ton last year based on a relatively small production of 2.5 tons.
Pricing in the report is based on a subset of production in the province as a whole, however. It excludes production at vineyards owned or leased by wineries, as well as pricing that falls outside the standard range.