Last week, a deep freeze hit Canada’s Okanagan Valley. The temperature dropped to arctic numbers, hitting -16°F overnight and remaining around -4°F for almost five days.

The valley’s vines experienced widespread damage. A majority of Okanagan wineries lost both secondary buds (which most often emerge after the primary has been killed) as well as tertiary buds (the backup to the backup). Hopes are low for this year’s harvest and overall health of the vines.

“It was lethal,” says Val Tait, winemaker at Gold Hillin the Oliver Osoyoos region of the Okanagan. “I’m hearing 100% bud loss throughout the valley.”

But these frigid temperatures are just the latest in a series of hurdles facing the Okanagan. Last December, another cold front rocked the region, culling 54% of crops. Recent wildfires have devastated sections of the valley and deterred tourism, which, like many U.S. wine regions, was already depleted after the pandemic slowed visitors, who later gravitated toward ultra-exotic “revenge travel” destinations in favor of domestic trips. These factors—paired with a worsening economy and declining interest from young drinkers—has been weighing heavily on the region’s grapegrowers and winemakers.

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