Good news for BC wine drinkers – according to the latest BC Wine Institute crop survey, the 2006 grape harvest is up 40% over the short crop year of 2005 and 22% over 2004 which is deemed to be a more typical year.
Even better, industry experts say the 2006 vintages taste better too. “I’ve been making wines since 1972, and both the quality and quantity of the 2006 crop were fantastic,” says George Heiss, proprietor Gray Monk Estate Winery in the northern Okanagan. “The flavours of our whites are much more pronounced than either the 2004 or 2005 vintages.”
Kim Pullen, proprietor of Church & State Winery on Vancouver Island notes their 2006 Pinot Noir did particularly well despite early than normal rains. And in the Similkameen Valley, Ann Heinecke, winemaker for Crowsnest Vineyards (winery store shown below) adds that while their grape output remained relatively unchanged from 2004, the quality of the Crowsnest crop was “perfect with whites exhibiting intense flavours.”
Senka Tennant, winemaker for Black Hills Winery on the Black Sage Bench in the Southern Okanagan, however, believes 2006 was “a red year. The late grapes – like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – really benefited from last year’s growing season.” He adds that 2006 was the best Cab year Black Hills Winery has enjoyed to date.
FYI for all you trivia buffs. According the Wine Institute’s crop survey increases in yield, quality, and evolving consumer tastes have produced some shuffling in the pecking order of the 2006 Top Ten grape varieties. Merlot and Chardonnay grapes continue to hold the Number One and Two spots respectively for tons harvested since 1999. However, since 2005 Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Noir have moved into 3rd, 4th and 5th place from their original 4th, 7th and 6th spots. The rising popularity of the Pinots has displaced Cabernet Sauvignon to 6th place, leaving Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Franc to round out list of top ten varietals for 2006.