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British Columbia wine production could drop by 97% due to January frost

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Feb15,2024

The production of British wine -Colombian could fall by 97% due to January frost

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Vineyards in the Colombian wine region 'Okanagan, British Columbia, were hit hard by the cold snap of January 2024, which followed that of December 2022. (File photo)

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The January 2024 extreme cold spell in British Columbia caused significant damage to vines, says a report from the province's Wine Producers Association. This could result in more than $440 million in reduced revenue for the British Columbia wine industry.

The damage to the buds is significant. More than 90% of the buds […] are dead, discolored, which worries everyone, says Gordon Fitzpatrick, president of Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards.

The cold kills the buds of the vines, explains Ben-Min Chang, viticulturist at the Summerland Research and Development Center of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

As a result, entirely local grape and wine production could be 97% to 99% lower in 2024 than usual.

The report from the British Columbia Wine Producers Association notes that between January 11 and 15, 2024, temperatures in the Okanagan Valley fell for more than 50 hours below the -20°C mark. This is the risk threshold for vines, according to the report.

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Only 1% to 3% of grape buds survived the frost, the report says.

The combination of low temperature and long exposure time resulted in this devastating damage.

A quote from Ben-Min Chang, viticulturist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

It feels like it's piling up, says Myles Produn, director General of the British Columbia Wine Producers Association.

In December 2022, an extreme cold snap froze grape buds in the Okanagan Valley. Local grape and wine production in 2023 was reduced by 58%.

This second frost that we have just suffered will be detrimental. Not having access to the market, not having wine to sell, it's a very, very troubling time for the sector.

A quote from Myles Produn, general director of the Association of Producers British Columbia Wine

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In December 2022, temperatures dropped as low as in January 2024, but the cold episode lasted less long. (Archive photo)

Of the total $440 million to $445 million the report projects in industry losses, vineyards and wineries stand to lose $340 million to $346 million .

Reduced production will also impact other parts of the supply chain, with suppliers, logistics service providers and distributors likely to lose between $97 million and $99 million. p>

This is very worrying, says Mark Hicken, wine industry consultant and founder of Alca Intelligence. The industry will be affected for several years by very reduced or virtually non-existent harvests, he said.

Most small and medium sized wineries will find themselves in great financial peril, as it is simply not possible to survive for a long period without normal income.

A quote from Mark Hicken, wine consultant. #x27;wine industry

Mark Hicken estimates that in the absence of a bailout plan, the majority of Wine farms, especially small and medium-sized ones, will be in great difficulty.

Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development, said in a statement that the government is helping farmers address the climate-related challenges they face. It says last year, about $27 million in compensation was paid to growers who lost their crops due to the 2022 frost.

For its part, the BC United party is calling for the creation of an emergency working group with the BC wine industry and the federal government to develop solutions to face the next few years.

Even if the longer-term consequences on the health of the vines cannot be precisely estimated until later in the year, wine growers will have to invest to replant vines destroyed by the cold, estimates the Association of Wine Producers of British Columbia.

The effects can last for several years because it takes time to recover from the damage, says Ben-Min Chang, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. We have to prune each vine or replant, which takes time and effort.

With information from Benoit Ferradini and Brady Strachan< /em>

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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