Climate Change – All Year Long

If we were playing a game of free association and I said “impact of climate change on B.C. fruit and grape growers”, I’ll bet wild fires and excessive heat would be the first thing most folks – at least those of us who don’t live in B.C. – would say. 

Well, certainly wildfires have not been kind to B.C. wine growers the past few years. But unprecedented cold snaps (December 2022 and January 2024) have been devastating. So bad that last week B.C. Premier David Eby announced the province will provide $70 million in support to help farmers facing vine and orchard damage from extreme weather.  

Okanagan fruit growers estimate that 90% or more of their crops (peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines, cherries, and grapes) were wiped out as a result of the January 2024 cold snap. Many fruit trees did not go completely dormant because of a warmer-than-usual start to the winter, which mean that buds were starting to come out in early January. And then the polar-vortex brought frigid temperatures that killed off buds.  

The $70 million is meant to help B.C. farmers producing grapes, cherries, tree fruit and berries … replant their vineyards, farms and orchards to make them more resilient to climate change”, according to the B.C. government.

In the announcement, Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food said, “This historic investment will help producers replant for a changing climate with more support than ever before, which will strengthen our economy and ensure people can enjoy B.C. fruit and wine into the future.”

As this news shows, climate change is not a seasonal thing.

For those who wonder what a live bud looks like versus a dead bud on a vine, here are a couple photos the late Pat Anderson took at a Niagara-on-the-Lake winery in 2013 — they show a cutting from an active bud and one that had died due to frost.

photo by Pat Anderson
Alive Bud (© Pat Anderson)
Dead bud (© Pat Anderson)

Climate Action

Icellars Estate Winery, a certified organic, net zero energy winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is a member of The Porto Protocol, a wine industry initiative aimed at climate solutions. In Icellar’s most recent newsletter they included a link to a documentary called “Seeding the Future” – it’s all about what members of the Porto Protocol have done to make their wineries more sustainable. The Porto Protocol is a global wine network where people in the wine industry share information and knowledge about climate actions they can take to “bring Action to life.”

The documentary is well worth watching as is interesting and informative. The technology and processes these wineries are adopting and the investments they are making is quite breathtaking. Thank you Adnan (owner of Icellars) for sharing the documentary and congratulations on being one of the winemakers featured in the documentary.