February 27, 2021

The year 2020 may be having its reputation marred by the likes of COVID-19, but there is at least one thing to look forward to: The potentially best wine vintage since 2012.

It has been an interesting year in terms of wine trends and innovation, but these 2017-and-up vintages are still nothing compared to what’s projected to come as more wineries are looking to further innovate with their latest harvests.

This ranges from falling back to more traditional style wines like appassimento, which is dehydrating grapes before fermentation, downright ancient emulations such as the Niagara College Teaching Winery’s Underground series which uses an archaic basket press, or fad wines like “orange wine,” which is caused by skin-fermenting grapes during the winemaking process.

Danny Zhang, general manager of Alvento Winery. He believes this year’s dry weather will make an extraordinary vintage. (Mike Reitmeier/Spoke News)

Innovation can only go so far, however, and sometimes the best vintages are because of the best weather. This year was marked by light frost at the beginning of the season and a dry, blistering hot summer. According to Danny Zhang, general manager of Alvento Winery in Vineland Station, Ont., this is going to make some of the 2020 vintage a bit different than the past years.

“For the growing aspect, it’s amazing. Nice dry weather, hot enough and enough sun for these grapes to really grow.” said Zhang. “Ontario soil, especially in the Niagara regions, you never had to worry about water.”

“But this year was so dry that water became a problem which is unusual for this area.”

Despite the hydration issues, Zhang is optimistic about the vintage.

“The harvest season so far is wonderful. I mean, most of the time it’s always raining, it’s quite moist, and we have lots of wind to keep it moist.”

According to Zhang, this type of weather will cause the grapes to ripen a bit more than usual which in turn increases the sugar content, causing some varietals to be sweeter than past vintages.

Despite decreasing wine sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Wine Intelligence’s mid-year update poking fun at the fact that they missed predicting a “deadly new global virus” at the beginning of the year, a good vintage this year will hopefully revitalize the market going into 2021 with brilliant blends and vivid varietals.

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