Okanagan winemaker anticipates vine damage after record cold

The winemaker from Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna says there could be damage to grapevines following record cold temperatures.

'I think next year we'll see a number of vines just collapse,' says Summerhill Pyramid winemaker

This season is being described as 'a stunning year' for ice wine, but the early snow could potentially damage the vines, says Erik von Krosigk. (Summerhill Pyramid Winery/ Facebook)

The winemaker from one of B.C.'s most popular wineries anticipates this year's early record cold in Kelowna could have a negative impact on next year's grape harvest.

Kelowna recently broke a record with overnight temperatures in the first week of November dropping to –11.5 degrees. The area also received its earliest snowfall in more than a decade.

"I can still see the leaves on the grapevine. The plants weren't completely dormant yet," said Erik von Krosigk, a winemaker at Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

Von Krosigk said the vines normally load up on nutrients and carbohydrates "so the canes don't burst when it gets really cold," but this year the plants did not get that opportunity.

He expects it could result in broken vines and possibly even a smaller crop next summer.

"I think we'll see some split trunks. I think we'll see some damage in the canes themselves," he said.

"I think next year we'll see a number of vines just collapse when the heat hits, because they won't be able to provide enough water because of the damage they received."

Earliest ice wine harvest in 20 years

However, von Krosigk said this year's hot summer temperatures and early frost have been "absolutely stunning for ice wine."

Summerhill Pyramid Winery recently conducted its earliest ice wine harvest in about 20 years due to the cold temperatures. (Summerhill Pyramid Winery/ Facebook)

Ice wine is made from grapes that have been allowed to freeze on the vine before they are picked, resulting in juice that is concentrated and very sweet. The winery recently conducted its earliest ice wine harvest in about 20 years.

"The last three years, we've had the hottest years on record. What that meant for the grapes themselves is incredibly bright flavours and aromas."

Von Krosigk said weather is constantly changing and every year is a little bit different.

He also said it will be impossible to know the full extent of any vine damage until next year's harvest.

"Mother Nature always has a way of saying pay attention. She gets to roll the dice."

With files from CBC's Daybreak South.