February 2016 | General, Okanagan

Sun Exposure in the Vineyard

With thousands of vineyards in British Columbia, across Canada and around the world, how is it possible for wines to taste so different? Well, there are many factors, some of which are climate (macro, meso and micro climate), the dirt (top soil and sub soil), elevation, exposure, and more that can all contribute to the final product. Let’s talk about the sunshine today and upcoming blog posts will tackle the other variables.
I sat down with our winemaker, Severine Pinte, to ask her some questions, here’s our discussion…

Q. In the northern hemisphere how important is it to have sun all day long?

A. The sunlight is essential to the plant to transform the energy from the sun into energy that can be assimilated by all the cells either to grow or to accumulate sugar (in the vine). The more sun we have and the longer we have it has a direct effect on the maturation cycle and the plant ability to ripen more or less.


Q. whats the shortest amount of sun the vines can handle in order to grow (photosynthesis)?

A. Difficult to say, vines are growing and producing grapes as far as northern and southern England. But whether the grapes are always good is another question? A perfect example: in the Okanagan there are grapes grown on black sage bench that see sun all the way till late in the afternoon vs. grapes grown on the golden mile side where the sun disappears from the vineyard around 4 pm because of the mountain shadow….the grapes taste totally different.

Q. What does too much sun look like?

A. If too much sun is received, grapes get burnt, the skins gets fractures and at harvest, there are dead tissues (like scars) and the skin at that point is of no use. No anthocyanin or polyphenols will have developed at that place where the sun-burn was.

cab sauv selona fort la sophia

Q. Which vineyard or grapes experience the best sun exposure?

A. At Le Vieux Pin, Crowley, Lastella and Selona vineyards because they are far enough from the mountains. Le Feuille d’Or is the one with the least amount of sun and this is why the grapes taste so much different from this vineyard.

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