The Okanagan Valley has been called a Canadian Garden of Eden. Wedged between two mighty mountain ranges, the valley is dominated by glacial lakes and sprawling vineyards and orchards. Balmy summer temperatures have drawn growing numbers of wine tourists in recent years, and Okanagan wineries have garnered recognition from Conde Nast and other authorities as among the best in North America. A freak mudslide devastated a corner of the Okanagan last week, after a ruptured dam spilled tons of water and debris onto prime farmland. I reported on the disaster for Wine Spectator.
Mudslide Buries Okanagan Vineyards
Debris buries 40 acres of vines in British Columbia; dam failed
Posted: June 18, 2010
A dam failure triggered a massive mudslide in western Canada’s Okanagan wine country this past week, burying approximately 40 acres of vineyards and orchards under soil, rocks and debris, in some spots up to 25 feet deep. The slide destroyed five homes and blocked the region’s main highway. Although no one was injured, property damages are estimated to be in the millions of dollars, and affected vintners and residents are now asking if the disaster could have been averted.
“My Chardonnay is under five feet of mud. You can’t even see the top of the plants,” said Rasoul Salehi, executive director of Enotecca Winery and Resorts, which manages the LaStella and Le Vieux Pin wineries. Enotecca’s vineyard in the Okanagan’s acclaimed Golden Mile grapegrowing zone was among the worst hit. The mud destroyed 3 acres of Moscato Bianco and Chardonnay vines, including some of the oldest vines in the valley, as well as winemaking equipment, vehicles and an outbuilding.
Click here to read the full article on Wine Spectator.