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BC wineries rely on frigid temperatures


Ian Jacobs, reporter
January 16, 2013 — When freezing temperatures occur as they have recently in Vancouver, many businesses are negatively impacted. One industry in the Okanagan however, begins to thrive when the temperature drops.


A longer cold snap is beneficial for making ice wine
A longer cold snap is beneficial for making ice wine

The Okanagan Valley is the site of grape pickers, set out to pick frozen grapes for the production of ice wine. 

Specifically picked during the cold winter months, the grapes are then sorted and squeezed for a highly concentrated and sweet, taste.

"The ideal conditions for us harvesting would be a long cold snap so we didn't feel the pressure to harvest these grapes quickly," says Jim Stewart, founder of Paradise Ranch Wines. "A fairly deep cold snap is great, something around the neighbourhood of at least -12 degrees so we know it’s still cold during the day because daylight is obviously much easier and doesn't jam up peoples clocks in terms of pressing, the pickers, etc."

Once the temperatures are cold enough, the grapes are picked and ready for production
Once the temperatures are cold enough, the grapes are picked and ready for production

Paradise Ranch Wines sell across Canada and on the international market, but in an industry that relies on below freezing temperatures, problems can occur.

"This year’s going to be a little more challenging," says Stewart. "We’re expecting the temperatures to get down cold enough only during the night, that creates lighting issues. Also there’s a lot of snow on the ground in the Okanagan this year so that creates the obvious hassles of tractors and trucks slipping in vineyards and slipping on the roads." 

Once the harvest is complete, the grapes are taken away and turned into bottles that are labelled and sold.

The valley then becomes empty until the next cold snap comes.

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