Over Wintering Strategies: New vineyard management practices

Canadian winters can be tough on wine grape vines. A single extreme cold snap can damage vines and reduce crop yields significantly. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers in Summerland, British Columbia are collecting data from multiple sources to determine the best practices for protecting vineyards against extreme cold.

It's more than cool research. View this video to learn more.

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Video Transcript

[An image and a maple leaf appear on screen. This is the title graphic for the video.]

[Light, electronic music fades in.]

Text on screen: Over Wintering Strategies, New vineyard management practices

[The video opens with a shot of vineyards in Osoyoos, British Columbia.]

Narrator: Canadian winters can be tough on wine grape vines. A single extreme cold snap...

[The shot changes to a closer view of the vineyards in Osoyoos, British Columbia.]

...can damage vines and reduce crop yields by 20 to 30%.

[The shot changes to show a vine that has some dead leaves, caused by winter damage.]

[The shot changes to show several rows of vine in the middle of the winter. There is snow on the ground.]

When temperatures drop below -20 for an extended period, the whole crop is at risk.

[Light, electronic music continues.]

[The shot changes to show a different vineyard in the winter. It looks very cold. The sun is out and there is a thick layer of snow on the ground.]

And it takes two years for a vine to recover, amounting to a significant financial loss for growers and vintners.

[The shot changes to show researcher Carl Bogdanoff standing in a commercial vineyard. He is smiling to the camera.]

Carl Bogdanoff and his team at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, in Summerland, British Columbia...

[The shot changes to show a wide view of a valley in the Okanagan. There are several commercial vineyards in view. A map of Canada fades in over this scene. Graphics appear on screen to indicate the location of Summerland, British Columbia. Text appears on screen.]

Text on screen: Summerland, British Columbia

...are working with grape growers to better protect vines against the deep freeze.

[The shot changes to show researcher Carl Bogdanoff. He is standing in a different location in the commercial vineyard.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

Carl Bogdanoff: In the past, say about 30 years ago, the wine industry was fairly small and also was based on winter hardy hybrid varieties...

[The shot changes to show a dense row of wine grape vines.]

...which produced fairly medium quality wines. The wine industry here in British Columbia decided to focus primarily on...

[The shot changes back to Carl Bodganoff standing in a commercial vineyard.]

...quality and to do that they replanted all their vineyards with premium vitus vinifera varieties...

[The shot changes to show a close up of purple merlot grapes. Text appears on screen.]

...such as merlot, cab franc...

Text on screen: Merlot grapes

[The shot changes to show a close up of light green chardonnay grapes. Text appears on screen.]

Text on screen: Chardonnay grapes

...chardonnay. All those wine varieties that we know and love.

[Light, electronic music continues.]

[The shot changes to show a row of grape vines in the same commercial vineyard where we find Carl Bodganoff.]

[The shot changes to show a chardonnay vine loaded with large bundles of grapes.]

Vitus vinifera can tolerate some freezing but they are seriously tested when temperatures become record low temperatures.

[The shot changes back to show Carl Bodganoff standing in the commercial vineyard.]

And when we do get these really freezing temperatures, grape buds are killed, vine tissue is damaged, the flowum or zylum or even the roots are damaged, or the vine could be totally killed outright.

[The shot changes to show a row of vines in a different commercial vineyard. This vineyard lost some of their vines to winter damage over the last winter. We can see some of these dead vines on the right hand side of the frame.]

[The shot changes to show a close up of one of the dead vines.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

Narrator: It is a multi-disciplined initiative that is fully engaged with the industry. The team monitors temperatures and bud hardiness...

[The shot changes to show a close up of the dead vine. It wasn't killed outright so it was able to grow at the beginning of the season and produce young grapes. We can see these grapes hanging on the vine.]

...at many locations across the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.

[The shot changes to show a commercial vineyard perched on a hill in the distance.]

Participating growers receive a bi-weekly, bud hardiness report for major wine grape varieties.

[The shot changes to show a different commercial vineyard, perched on the edge of Skaha Lake in the Okanagan Valley.]

They use this information to assess risk of winter injury before and during an arctic event to help them decide when to operate fans that draw warmer air into vineyards.

[Light, electronic music continues.]

[The shot changes to show Carl Bogdanoff crouching beside one of the dead vines in the commercial vineyard from earlier. He is pointing at part of the dead vine.]

Knowing bud damage levels also helps in deciding how much to prune.

[The shot changes to show a closer view of the dead vine, without Carl Bogdanoff in the picture.]

Carl Bogdanoff: Last winter, this vine was compromised. It's flowum and zylum cells were damaged.

[The shot changes to show Carl Bogdanoff crouching beside the dead vine, talking to camera.]

It wasn't completely girdled, so this vine broke bud, sent up some shoots and had some crops but when it got really hot this summer...

[The shot changes back to a close up of the dead vine.]

...this vine totally collapsed and now is dead.

[Light, electronic music continues.]

[The shot changes to show a high angle view of a lush commercial vineyard. There are two people walking down one of the rows. They are both carrying yellow bins full of grapes. Slowly the walk off screen. As the narrator speaks, text appears on screen.]

Narrator: Additionally, the research team collects data in several other current research projects that are looking at the effects on hardiness of rootstocks and varietal selections...

Text on screen: Rootstocks and varietal selections

...irrigation practices...

Text on screen: Irrigation practices

...use of fans to mix air in the vineyards...

Text on screen: Use of fans to mix air in the vineyards

...amount of crop on the vines...

Text on screen: Ground cover between vine rows

...ground cover between vine rows...

Text on screen: Disease

...disease...

Text on screen: Leaf removal and cluster positioning

...leaf removal and cluster positioning...

Text on screen: Plant hormone research

...and how a plant hormone, one that improves grape colour, is also contributing to bud hardiness.

[Light, electronic music continues.]

[The shot changes to show a man standing in a row of grape vines, talking to camera.]

Text on screen: Mike Watson, Chair of the Board of Directors, British Columbia Wine Grape Council

Mike Watson: Anything we can do to make the vines hardier, even by 2 or 3 degrees, is huge. It's the difference between up to 50% damage and replanting crop loss to having a total successful year in the succeeding year.

[The shot changes to show Carl Bogdanoff walking up a vine row and examining the plants as he goes.]

Carl Bogdanoff: It is really important that we understand...

[The shot changes to show Carl Bogdanoff eating a grape right off the vine. He smiles to camera.]

...how we can help these vines...

[The shot changes to show a vineyard in the middle of the winter. The ground is covered in snow.]

...weather these cold snaps that occur periodically...

[The shot changes back to Carl Bogdanoff walking up a vine row.]

...and to develop new vineyard management practices that can improve the cold hardiness of the grape vine.

[Light, electronic music continues.]

[The shot changes to show empty green wine bottles moving through a machine on their way to be filled with wine.]

Narrator: Each summer, the team’s interim results...

[The shot changes to show more empty green wine bottles moving through a machine on their way to be filled with wine.]

...are presented at the BC Wine Grape Council’s Enology and Viticulture Trade Show.

[The bottles are picked up by the machine and quickly filled with wine. We can see a close up of the full bottles as they exit the filling station.]

[A row of full wine bottles moves down a conveyor on the machine. As they travel, a hand appears and removes some of the bottles.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

Final results will be made available to growers in 2019.

[The shot changes to show a man using a manual forklift to move a skid of full wine bottles in boxes.]

[The shot changes to show a close up of someone pouring red wine into a glass. The glass in on a table that appears to be set for a meal.]

For Canadian vintners, smart science ensures you can enjoy Canadian wines...

[The shot changes to show four adults sitting around a dinner table. Each one is holding a wine glass containing red wine. They smile, laugh, and clink their glasses together.]

...room temperature or chilled.

[The shot fades to white.]

[Fade up from white.]

Text on screen: Modern. Innovative. Growing. Discover other agricultural innovations at www.agr.gc.ca.

[Light, electronic music fades out.]

Text on screen: Canada, © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2014).

[Fade to black.]

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