Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

LaStella Winery in Osoyoos, B.C., seen in this handout. Rasoul Salehi, who is general manager, said he was excited about the major snowfall because it helps maintain the health of grape vines through the winter season.

Despite the piles of snow and a messy commute, wineries in B.C.'s southern interior say their glass is more than half-full after being hit by a major snowstorm.

The Okanagan Valley was blanketed by a snowstorm, which started on Saturday afternoon and lasted until Monday evening. Kelowna was left with 38 centimetres of snow, Penticton with 27 centimetres and Osoyoos accumulated 14 centimetres.

Meteorologist Jennifer Hay at Environment Canada said this type of snowfall is "out of the ordinary" for the region. Kelowna was only one centimetre shy of beating its 1949 record for the most snow received over a two-day period.

Story continues below advertisement

But in B.C.'s main agricultural region, the white stuff hasn't bothered some of the 131 winery operators and grape growers in the Okanagan Valley.

"We were excited," said Rasoul Salehi, general manager of LaStella and Le Vieux Pin wineries in Osoyoos. He said snow helps maintain the health of grape vines through the winter season. "Down near the root level, near the bottom of the plant's trunk, snow creates almost an igloo or blanket-like effect protecting the vine from freezing and dying," Mr. Salehi said.

Snow can help with moderating fluctuating temperatures and preventing frost – a more significant threat to grape vines that often comes when skies are clear and there is little to trap heat in the atmosphere. Most vines cannot survive below -15 C.

The problem of vines being bitten by frost is something Mr. Salehi and others in the Okanagan have experienced before. "The winter of 2008/2009, we had clear skies but temperatures plummeted to minus-20 degrees, and even minus-23 in certain areas, and it caused quite a bit of damage up and down the valley," he said.

Scott Locke, general manager of Cedar Creek Winery in Kelowna, echoed Mr. Salehi's sentiments about the early winter snowstorm. "I wasn't too worried. Had it been February, it'd be a bigger concern because we would have started pruning to get ready for the upcoming season," he said.

Both Mr. Locke and Mr. Salehi say unexpected weather conditions are a part of being a grape grower in the region.

"Whatever style of wine-making you have, you have to dial it back in the Okanagan," Mr. Salehi said. "Your practices are more expensive because you have to take into consideration the worst-case scenario conditions with the weather: Prepare for an early harvest, have lower yields, prune later."

Story continues below advertisement

This snowstorm, though, is not unwelcome. It's expected to add to the water supply in the desert-like conditions of the region and help with irrigation. "It's all healthy from that perspective. When the runoff comes, the lake's going to rise quite a bit," Mr. Locke said.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies