Wine Culture Magazine

Getty Images photo

It’s not a decision anyone wants to make.

After a year of record-breaking heat, wildfires and floods, Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars has made the difficult call not to bottle their 2021 vintage due to damage from the smoke that covered the Okanagan Valley in a heavy pall for weeks last summer.

“Obviously, we’re very disappointed, and it was a tough decision, but we’re not willing to compromise the reputation we’ve worked hard to establish over the past 30 years,” says Christie Mavety, Blue Mountain’s co-owner and director of sales and marketing.

The Okanagan Falls estate is located near where Thomas Creek wildfire burned an estimated 11,755 hectares just east of Skaha Lake. It was just one of more than 1,600 fires that erupted across the province in the wake of an unprecedented heat dome that shattered temperature records, especially in sun-drenched wine-growing regions.

According to the Wine Growers BC 2021 vintage report, that heat has resulted in smaller berries and lower yields—down as much as 30 per cent in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. It also contributed to an early and condensed harvest in every region, made more difficult by the chronic staffing shortage and more urgent because of the need to get fruit out of the smoke.

The full impact of all that smoke may not be seen for months, if not years, and other wineries will surely be affected as well. But not all the news is bad. Yields may be low, but according to early reports, the wines that are made will be ripe, intense, full-bodied and extremely high in quality.

Blue Mountain Vineyard owners, from left: Matt, Jane, Ian and Christie Mavety. Photo courtesy of Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars.

Even the Mavety family at Blue Mountain sees a bright side to all this.

“We’re focusing on the fact that while the grapes had smoke taint, the vines were unaffected, so the future is bright,” Mavety says. “Although Blue Mountain won’t produce a 2021 vintage, we’re in the process of releasing wines from the 2020 vintage, which was excellent.”

She adds: “Ultimately. the most important thing is that people can count on us to deliver top-quality wines.”

Follow us on Instagram