Compounding an already challenging season, the devastating impacts of climate change are being felt throughout the Okanagan, Similkameen and Shuswap regions once again with active wildfire situations evolving throughout these regions. These wildfires not only have an impact on wine tourism, but also the livelihoods of winery staff; many of whom have been evacuated themselves.

Wine Growers BC has issued the following statement:

At this time, the safety of our community is the top priority and we’re asking everyone to do their part, be mindful of the conditions, and make safe and responsible decisions. This is a challenging time for our community, impacting individuals, communities, and neighbourhoods in the Central Okanagan. We extend our heartfelt thoughts to those who have experienced loss or are displaced and express our gratitude to all of the emergency responders on the frontlines for their tireless efforts to ensure the safety of those in our community.

It is too early to know whether the wildfires will impact this vintage for select producers in the impacted regions. The study of how smoke impacts finished wine is evolving and depends on many variables and we will provide updates once the situation becomes clearer.

In accordance with the emergency order issued on August 19 restricting non-essential travel to the Okanagan, we are asking everyone to please postpone their trips to the Okanagan until a time when wineries will be in a better position to welcome you. Wineries in the Thompson, Fraser Valley, Kootenays, Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands remain open and ready to welcome visitors.

With so many small businesses and wineries being affected by the fires and tourism impacts, we encourage the public to continue to support your favourite local suppliers and producers directly or via their online boutiques. Your support is crucial during this pivotal time of year and the businesses truly appreciate it.

If the public is looking to support Wildfire Relief Efforts, the following charitable organizations are providing direct support to those affected:

The Canadian Red Cross
Mamas for Mamas
United Way
Central Okanagan Food Bank

Wine Growers BC will continue to provide updates on wine tourism and the smoke situation as it evolves.

[top] Photo by Myrna Stark Leader