Cork Vs. Stelvin Method - Is one better than the other?
2023 began with a mid-December 2022 deep freeze of -22°C on the Naramata Bench. This was the coldest valley wide cold snap since 1988 and was very hard on the vines throughout the Okanagan. Generally, January fluctuates between -5°C to +5°C but January 2023 temperatures went as low as – 16°C and February saw some days at – 12 °C. We were fortunate enough that we did not have vine death due to the extreme cold, but we did lose primary buds which resulted in an overall 2023 harvest that was about 50% of our anticipated levels. Moving into Spring 2023, March and April were cool and dry with a little bit of snow on the ground. By the end of April, the first warm weather showed up with 25°C and we saw bud break begin on May 2 at the winery. May was the hottest one on record which gave the grapes a good start on the growing season. The beginning of June was 30°C and dry with the middle of the month cooling off slightly with low 20’s°C and rain. By the end of June, we were back to the 30+°C making the overall month the hottest and driest June on record. July and August were hot with light precipitation. The hot dry weather was great for growing grapes and September was a glorious month for the vines with temperatures between 24°C and 30°C. The hot dry weather also meant that there were issues with forest fires throughout the valley. By mid-September, the firefighting efforts had things under control, and we were back to clear skies as we moved into harvest. Unfortunately, on August 28th, the Summerland clay cliff slide shut down highway 97 for just under a month making it difficult for guests to travel to the winery. This year’s harvest was a smooth one. Due to the early valley wide cold snap, it was lighter tonnage than usual for Poplar Grove. On the Naramata Bench, where we farm approximately 100 acres of vines, the temperature reached -22 C°, we lost primary buds which resulted in a Naramata Bench fruit harvest that was about 50% of our anticipated harvest. In Osoyoos, our vineyards suffered more loss with essentially no crop from our blocks of Viognier and Syrah vineyards and only a 50% crop from our Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Chardonnay. The bright side of harvest was the high quality of fruit that the 2023 vintage offered and for even more good news, we were finished picking on Oct 15, over a month earlier than average. Overall, 2023 produced a limited amount of high-quality fruit and gave us the earliest harvest on record for Poplar Grove. We can’t wait to taste the 2023 wines.