Okanagan Falls grape grower awarded 2021 Viticulturist of the Year

Local grape grower lauded

A second-generation farmer has been honoured by the BC Grapegrowers’ Association for cultivating grapes that have created award-winning wines.

Heidi Lorch has been named 2021 Viticulturist of the Year, receiving recognition on Tuesday at Lorch’s Peak Vineyard in Okanagan Falls with 40 fellow-growers in attendance.

Lorch operates a 7.5-acre vineyard in Okanagan Falls which produce Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

The neglected vineyard was purchased by Lorch 2019 and revamped with new irrigation systems and working with organic matter in the soil to strengthen the vines.

The grapes have been used by Wild Goose Winery.

“I am in awe of how quickly Heidi turned around this vineyard," said Nik Kruger, Wild Goose winemaker. “I see her in the vineyard every day, tending to every vine. We will continue to purchase all the fruit she produces for the foreseeable future.”

John Bayley, president of the BC Grapegrowers’ Association and viticulturist for Blasted Church Vineyards, said the judges were unanimous in the decision for the award, since Lorch's attention to detail stood out in all judging categories

“They were really impressed with her extensive soil testing and record keeping and with her long-term vision for her vineyard," he said.

“We have been growing wine grapes in BC for over 60 years and earning honours, nationally and internationally, for the wines created from BC grapes. Quality wine can only come from quality grapes and we are very grateful to the excellence of grape growers like Heidi.”

BC grape growers nominate their peers for the Viticulturist of the Year honour. A committee of industry professionals evaluates the nominees by visiting their vineyards to look at vineyard management practices, environmental stewardship, innovation and other factors.

The award carries a $2,000 bursary for viticulture education. This year, the winner also receives a series of soil tests from Vintality. This is the third year the honour has been presented.

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