Orchards and vineyards appear to have weathered February’s cold snap, according to research scientists at the Summerland Research and Development Centre.
Samples submitted by viticulture managers for Arterra Wines Canada Inc. (formerly Vincor) and Sebastian Farms, a division of Von Mandl Family Estates in West Kelowna, undergo testing at Summerland every two weeks by plant biologist Carl Bogdanoff and his team.
The real-time testing helps determine the temperature at which 50% of the buds will freeze.
Grape buds are carefully cut from the canes, placed on trays and gradually cooled in specialized freezers. As the moisture in the bud freezes, it gives off a spike of energy and the temperature is recorded. Bogdanoff graphs the results for 15 cultivars from 13 different regions and distributes the data to the industry.
“Grapevine canes from 71 sites throughout the Okanagan valley are collected and tested,” explains Bogdanoff.
Testing indicates that temperatures have not been severe enough this winter to damage vines.
The most vulnerable area to date was around Kelowna International Airport, where temperatures reached -20 degrees Celsius on February 9.
However, researchers at Summerland determined that local Gewürztraminer wouldn’t be susceptible to winter damage until -23 degrees Celsius.