Farm to Glass Wine Tours get's ready for the 2024 Season!

Oh hi there you wine loving friends!  It's me..... Jess.  

Spring is just around the corner, though some times it feels like spring, then the next morning it feels like winter just to wake up again and it feels like spring again (more on this further down the newsletter) –  but this means the vines are waking up, with the fuzzy grapevine buds (buds are what the leaves, vines, grape bunches and tendrils shoot out from) that hold the fate of the 2024 growing season are getting ready to do their thing, and so is Farm to Glass Wine Tours!

Get ready to dive into the third and best season yet of the most sustainable, eco-luxe wine tour company in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valley because my 2024 season kicks off on April 19th and....

The Early Bird Gets the Wine - 15% Off! 
Start your wine adventure early and save big! From now until March 31st, use promo code EARLYBIRDCATCHESTHEWINE to snag a 15% discount on all tours (except the Sip & Anchor) throughout the 2024 season.  With some great wines coming out this year, sadly the volume will be lower than normal so the early bird really will catch the wine this season.  

Wondering Where to Stay?
Need a cozy nest during your wine-filled escapade? I've been working on my "Where to Stay" page to ensure you rest your head in style after a day of sipping and swirling.  Find that page here!

These aren't wine tours, they're wine adventures!
Curious about the wineries you could visit? Want to discover a new-to-you wine region? Wonder no more! Choose from 12 different tours with a 13th coming down the pipeline (which honestly might just be my favourite one yet but shhh... don't tell the other wine tours that).  Click here to find your wine tasting adventure!

Hyper-Customized Tours for Your Palate 
Did you know I tailor your wine-tasting experience to your tastebuds? Whether you're red wine obsessed, an ABC'er or a bubbles champion, your tour can be super customized to cater to your palate.  I like to call myself a certified wine geek and have tons of papers and pins that say I'm wine smart to ensure I match you with the best wineries.  Here's my story and bio.

Local Goodie Bag Glow-Up!
My hyper-local goodie bags are getting a sustainable makeover! Packed with gifts and goodies from very special and unique local small businesses, they're the perfect way for me to say THANK YOU TO YOU for choosing an eco-friendly wine adventure. Support local while sipping local, how beautiful is that?

Sustainable Sip & Anchor Sailing Tours
I think I'm a little too excited about this one.  In collaboration with Dan and Robyn Hines of Winds of Change Sailing Expeditions, we're working on launching the first-ever sustainable half-day wine tour, half-day sailing tour, full day awesomeness!

Magical Grants on the Horizon
Now that I'm a couple of season's in, I qualify for grants to sprinkle a bit of magic in 2024. Trust me, it's not all about wine tours (well, maybe a little).  I'll keep y'all posted and meanwhile, keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!

Winter Tales from the Wineries: Wondering how our wineries have been faring this winter? I'm not going to lie, it's been a rough one.  Here's a couple of winter updates from a few wineries:

  • Terravista Vineyards on the Naramata Bench "Early dissection of buds is showing damage across all varieties. The younger Mencía, Pinot Noir and Albariño vineyards might be a smidge better. Temperatures dropped to -27C at En Terre and at Lone Hand Ranch, with -27.5C at Boulders and Rock Ovens in OK Falls - our new vineyards with Riesling, Cinsault and Cabernet Franc. We are carefully designing pruning strategies for each block and variety to ensure some canopy, potential fruit for next year and most importantly survival into the future."
  • Orofino Vineyards in the Similkameen Valley: "By now you have probably heard about the vineyard losses throughout the interior due to 2 extreme cold weather events in December of 2022 and January of 2024.  Both events have resulted in considerable vine death, a small 2023 crop, and now an estimated 97%-99% bud death throughout the interior vineyards. That’s a big hit to farmers, wineries, and BC wine lovers.  Farming is hard." 
  • Bella Wines of Naramata, BC: "If you’ve been following the local news surrounding the current state of the BC wine industry, you’re likely aware of the devastating impact a week of Arctic air in mid-January this year has had on agriculture in the Okanagan Valley.  At this point, it feels like our own heart breaking version of "groundhog day”, the movie.  This recent hit adds to a string of challenges we’ve faced in the last few years.  If you recall, we had a similar cold snap in December 2022 which manifested in a 50% crop reduction for us (we only made 1500 cases from the 2023 vintage) due to winter kill.  In the last year we’ve had another round of extreme temperature fluctuations (both heat in summer and cold in winter), the worst fire season on record, smoke here at the farm so thick during harvest we couldn’t see the lake, a rock slide that disrupted travel (and supply lines) through to a hotel ban during fire season that kept the traffic on the bench to a low hum during what should’ve been our busiest time.  We really won’t know the full extent of this recent severe cold snap until bud break this April when we can determine (1) if the vine is alive but the fruiting buds are dead (e.g. we could have a crop the following year) or (2) the vine is completely dead in which case it needs to be replaced and we will not see fruit from the replaced vine for 4 years (barring any other curve balls Mother Nature has in store for us).  It all seems a bit overwhelming right now."

Heavy right? Now more than ever we need to rally to support the smaller wineries, owned by people - which is what Farm to Glass Wine Tours has been about since the very beginning.  

How to support the BC Wine Industry, Farm to Glass style:

  • Choose a winery or wines that aren't from one of the "Big Three" - they will be ok, I ensure you.   
  • Sign up for your favourite BC wineries' newsletter and buy directly from them as they often have special deals or free shipping, I promise you won't be bombarded by daily emails or even weekly for that matter, they're too busy growing grapes and making wine to do that... hahahahaha.
  • Or, join a wine club - or if you want to join a wine club that features a variety of BC wine than I highly recommend to check out:  Naramata General Store Wine Club or Carl's Wine Club 

This season is going to probably look physically different, well I can confirm it will.  We will see vineyards that didn't survive at all and look like vine graveyards and depending on the time of year you visit, you may hear the sound of a tractor pulling them out and laying them all down in piles at the end of the rows (probably one of the most heartbreaking things to see and hear), some vines will look like they're doing great but on closer inspection don't have any grape clusters this year, some land that once had vines will now be bare with cover crops and just rebuilding soil health so that it's strong and healthy for plantings next year....

... but then there will be new beginnings of baby vines being planted and ready to tell their stories in a few years to come.  

But the word on the street, is that there will be more wine kept at the wineries this season, so think less wine being shipped to restaurants and liquor stores and more for us!  

I might call many of these smaller wineries we visit on Farm to Glass Wine Tours the underdogs of the BC wine industry and these underdogs refuse to surrender. Fuelled by passion, infused with talent by means of listening to the land, and driven by a love for making wine, these smaller producers create wines that echo the story of the Okanagan and Similkameen. Some are experimenting with new grape varieties and winemaking techniques. Many are united in their cause, some forming a tight-knit community, exchanging ideas and providing mutual support of not only farming and winemaking, but also of mental health.  

These individuals are the rebels, and for me personally the unsung heroes of the BC wine industry. They navigate the challenges with a determination that is awe inspiring, and it brings me to much joy to connect you to these people.  

There will be wine and there will be great wine!  We're coming into some smaller yields but smaller often means better concentration and many of time, better quality.  Will these be wines that you are going to cellar for a decade?  Most likely not, but drink them in the first 2 years and you will be loving them. 

Please reach out anytime if you have questions, I'm always happy to help.

Cheers to the vines, good times, being kind and drinking damn good BC wine.

Jess Hopwood
Owner, Guide & Fun Person of Farm to Glass Wine Tours 

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