The BC Grape Growers’ Association and the BC Wine Grape Council honoured federal research scientist Pat Bowen of the Summerland Research and Development Centre with a lifetime achievement award at the annual grower day, August 11, in Penticton.
“Pat was instrumental in developing our industry into the internationally competitive region that it is today,” says BCGA president John Bayley, viticulturist at Blasted Church. “She gave us localized scientific research to help us continually learn more about our region and improve year after year.”
Bowen received a doctorate in viticulture from the University of California-Davis and began working with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada in Agassiz in 1990. But vegetables and fruit crops with an emphasis on Brussels sprouts was not her first love and Bowen with husband and fellow grape researcher Carl Bogdanoff were transferred to Summerland in 2000 to spearhead the viticulture research program there until their retirement in fall 2021.
Bowen’s work has led to the development of soil maps for every vineyard across the province and she has also been a frequent contributor and coordinator of industry conferences.
But it is her work with growers that stands out for industry.
“What we have gained as an industry over the last 20 years is pretty impressive,” says Mike Watson, senior viticulturist with Arterra Wines Canada. “Pat has always collaborated with viticulturists and considered the true needs of the industry.”
If there is a new problem, Pat has been the person to call, says Watson.
“Whether it’s red blotch popping up, or a spring frost-kill, we go to Pat,” he says. “If she doesn’t know the answer she will find out for us.”
Bowen acknowledged the work of the entire viticulture team at Summerland, however, and her award was a collage of colleague photos that ensured their contributions won’t be forgotten.
“This is the perfect gift for me,” Bowen says. “I love this industry and the team work that we do. Every time I go to a conference I boast about our team and BC grapes and wine.”