Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars in Okanagan Falls will not make any 2021 vintage wines because grapes grown on its 31-hectare estate show smoke taint.
“The fruit of the 2021 harvest didn’t meet the winery’s exceptionally high standards,” reads an email sent out to Blue Mountain wine club members.
“Members of the Mavety family, which owns and operates Blue Mountain, made the very difficult decision not to bottle the 2021 vintage simply because they aren’t willing to compromise the reputation they’ve worked tirelessly to establish over the past three decades.”
The Mavetys are founders Ian and Jane, who started vineyards on the property in 1971 and sold grapes to other wineries before setting up their own winery in 1991. Joining them are their kids, Matt, who is winemaker, and Christie, sales and marketing manager.
Blue Mountain’s vineyards are in an amphitheatre-shaped swath of land that trapped smoke from last summer’s wildfires for several days.
While the smoke damaged the grapes, it did not damage the vines, so future vintages will be fine.
Blue Mountain picked the grapes and started fermentation in the fall and attempted to mitigate the impact of the smoke contamination.
However, the results didn’t meet the winery’s standards and determined it was just too risky to start bottling and release 2021 vintage wines.
Instead, Blue Mountain has sold the fermented juice to another winery.
The name of that winery is not being revealed by either Blue Mountain or the purchaser.
As mentioned before, there are processes to mitigate smoke taint in a wine.
It will be interesting to see if the name of the purchasing winery is ever disclosed, if it can erase the smoke impact or if the wine comes to market with detectable smoke taint.
“While this unparalleled interruption of production is disappointing for everyone, including family, staff, wine club members and wine lovers in B.C. and around the world, Mavety family members are confident they will resume making premium wines with the 2022 vintage,” summed up the email to wine club members.
The winery likely won’t open its on-site tasting room and shop this season.
However, it does have some inventory from previous vintages and will release its 2020 Gamay this month, 2020 Chardonnay in May, 2020 Pinot Noir in September and sparkling wine in November.
April is BC Wine Month
Drink more BC wine.
That’s the gist of BC Wine Month, which is every April, declared so by the provincial government and promoted by Wine Growers British Columbia.
Wine Growers, via its WineBC.com website, urges you to pair B.C. wine with wild B.C. salmon, order B.C. wine at restaurants as part of the Pour More BC campaign, download the Wines of BC app, subscribe to The Vine e-newsletter and become a BC Wine Ambassador.
My wife, Kerry, and I became BC Wine Ambassadors this month by taking the 90-minute online course covering the basics of what makes B.C. wine special.
Usually the course is $75, but this month you can take it for free by using the promo code BCWINEMONTH.
It’s also the kind of education you can do with a glass of wine in hand.
Kerry and I chose to do so with the elegantly oaked 2018 Kitsch Chardonnay ($25) from East Kelowna.
B.C. wine is worth celebrating, not just because it’s a glamorous and delicious drink, but because it’s an important value-added agricultural product, tourism draw and economic driver.
There are now 370 wineries in the province, which is phenomenal growth from the 19 in 1990. The industry attracts one million visitors a year and contributes $2.8 billion every year to the economy.
Steve MacNaull is an Okanagan wine lover and Canadian Wine Scholar (and BC Wine Ambassador). Email: [email protected].