Grape harvest well underway
Miriam Halpenny - Sep 09, 2020 - Biz Releases

Harvest season is just beginning at Kelowna’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery, and winemaker Michael Alexander believes it’s going to be another great year.

“Once the grapes start to change colour and veraison happens, that’s when we really start checking the vineyards more. We’ve got a team of fantastic growers. We work with 12 different growers,” Alexander said.

His team will then start sampling the fruit to test the sugar and acid levels before deciding to pick.

“Historically, we hand harvest all of our sparkling first, because we want a little bit less sugar and higher acids in our sparkling wine. Then we go into some of the table whites to some of the lighter reds, then into the big reds and, weather permitting, we go into the late harvest,” Alexander said.

Day and night crews will then work tirelessly to get the grapes from the vineyard to the bottle.

And unlike other years, when weather poses the biggest challenge for harvest season, Alexander said this year the biggest challenge is getting people to do it.

“It’s been way more difficult to get people from out of country. Historically, lots of cellar hands, people interested in wine, travelled the world, hopped from harvest to harvest. Obviously not an option this year, so we had to expand our pool. We’ve been really fortunate that we’ve found a great team that’s really excited and really passionate about wine, even if they don’t come with a lot of experience,” he said.

COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in more Canadians harvesting as well as people from the sales side of wine.

And despite a slower start to the harvest, the recent heat in the Okanagan has left the harvest “clean and pretty.” It is expected Summerhill Pyramid will harvest between 375 and 400 tons of grapes this year.

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