Forget the groundhog. The surest sign of spring in the Okanagan is when wineries open their doors for the season and vineyards start pruning their vines to prepare for another year of grapes.
Over the past week, some Okanagan wineries have expanded to full-time spring hours in their tasting rooms after a long winter. Many others have planned openings in the coming week leading into April.
“People just come by,” said Kristen Thurlin, Dirty Laundry Vineyards hospitality manager. Dirty Laundry was open only on weekends over the winter, but as of Monday that changed to seven days a week.
“If the weather’s nice, sunny day out there, beautiful drive, I think everybody’s trying to get out of the house these days,” Thurlin said.
She said this time of year, when it’s not quite tourist season, is a good time to go visit wineries without the crowds.
“Great time of year for us to see our locals, we get a lot of local people that come in and say, ‘Oh it’s so nice and peaceful here right now, that’s why we’re here,’” Thurlin said.
Out in the fields of the vineyards, it’s a late start for those prepping the vines for spring growth.
“It was kind of an oddball winter. We had a late snowfall, some wacky temperatures and all that,” said Chris D’Angelo, winemaker at D’Angelo Estate Winery.
Vineyards around the Okanagan are pruning their vines this week as temperatures finally seem to have stabilized north of zero.
D’Angelo explained he is chopping his vines down to their buds, to allow them room to grow this spring and summer.
“So what happens is all the buds on the vines, they will swell up, they’ll get all fuzzy, and then you’ll have bud break,” D’Angelo said. “And bud break is when you see the green leafy tissue burst out of the bud, and, in fact, that’s the beginning of the whole season.”