As the temperature drops and autumn arrives in the Okanagan, that means the annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival is just around the corner.
The 35th annual fall wine festival takes place Oct. 1 to 11 across the Okanagan Valley, the interest buoyed this year by an record early beginning to the grape harvest on Aug. 12.
The festival is expected to attract more than 20,000 visitors taking part in some 125 events.
The kick-off to the festivities takes place Thursday in Kelowna with the British Columbia Wine Awards Reception, the oldest and largest provincial wine competition.
That will be followed up by other signature events— Fall WestJet Wine Tastings on Friday and Saturday, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna.
The wrap-up is on Thanksgiving weekend with two new events: The Valley First “Cropped,” Canada’s largest public tasting of B.C. wines and authentic farmer’s market in Penticton, and a farm-to-table Sparkling Brunch in Osoyoos at Watermark Beach Resort.
The extra long hot growing season with an unprecedented early start, weeks ahead of the customary picking time, saw one of the warmest and driest springs and summers in the Okanagan.
Not surprisingly some experts predict last year’s record tonnage will be surpassed with more than 38,000 tonnes for the 2015 vintage expected from the 305 licenced wineries in the province (also a new high).
British Columbia wines are hot with consumers, with the total provincial market share for BC VQA wines this summer up 16.58 per cent.
“With an early start to the spring season in B.C., the 2015 growing year was remarkable for its warmth and dry conditions—ideal for ripening both whites and reds,” said Val Tait, general manager and winemaker, Bench 1775 Winery. “Moderate temperatures in the fall slowed fruit development yielding balanced acids and sugars. Wines have the potential to be exceptional where fruit was not picked too early.”
The Okanagan Fall Wine Festival over the years has been a strong component of the growing economy in the Okanagan Valley, said Ingrid Jarrett, president of the BC Hotel Association and general manager of the Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos.
“We have an incredible choice of cellar door experiences and range of wine styles, varietals as well as price points with increasingly outstanding experiences and product offerings in the Okanagan Valley,” said Jarrett.
“The Okanagan Wine Festival events span the valley—this has resulted in a strong shoulder season for hotels and resorts as well as all the ancillary tourism businesses.”
Event and ticket information for all the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival events can be found at thewinefestivals.com.