May 4, 2021
Learn about viticulture with Senior Viticulturist Ed Tonner
In your own words, what is viticulture?
Viticulture is the cultivation of grapevines, or to some wine growing, an essential process to the creation of wine. It encompasses all aspects of grapevine growth, the techniques involved in steering the natural process of berry development into a worthy cultivated fruit for wine production.
What makes the Okanagan unique?
The Okanagan climate experiences cooler temperatures yet high heat and long periods of sun exposure in the summer, this provides an ability to grow a multitude of varietals. Due to our latitudinal location, we have more sunlight exposure than most regions in the world. West Kelowna in particular also sits over an extinct volcano with soil rich in volcanic rock, clay, gravel and glacial till, providing minerals that give wines depth, strength and character.
What do you think sets Quails’ Gate vineyards apart from others?
In addition to the prime location and ideal soil composition, our vineyards are meticulously managed and crop yields are kept low to ensure premium quality. Our close proximity to the lake allows for a moderating weather effect which offers cooler nights in the summer and warmer days in the winter. All of our grapes are hand-harvested in order to maintain grape integrity and we are fortunate to have some of the oldest plantings in BC showcasing longevity in our viticulture practices.
What methods are you currently using to improve the viticulture programme at Quails’ Gate?
First and foremost, we respect the land, this leads to many of our initiatives being sustainable. Some of our methods include using natural humus without biowaste so that our compost is nutrient rich. We plant cover crops to add an alternative food source for insects which keeps them away from our grapevines, which later provide fertilizer as ready fixed nitrogen once cultivated back into our soil. Our high-tech wireless irrigation systems provide a farm-wide view on mapping and managing our water usage and reducing our water footprint and an Agrotherm machine provides low-impact pest management without chemical-based sprays. Our nutrient rich return to the soil fertilizer program is carefully tailored to the wide array of soil types in conjunction with the variety of the age of our grapevines. These are just some of the methods we are practicing at our vineyards.
What is the next step for viticulture at Quails’ Gate?
We’re in the midst of finishing a 200 acre development site in South Kelowna, the future home of our sister winery. We have young five-year-old vines that will be producing crop for wine production while planting another 20 acres this year.