COVERT FARMS 2022 HARVEST REPORT
“Never does Nature separate the animal and vegetable worlds. This is a mistake she cannot endure, and of all the errors which modern agriculture has committed this abandonment of mixed husbandry has been the most fatal.” – Albert Howard
I’ll start the 2022 crop report with a quick summary of 2021 which we just wanted to forget by the end of it. As you recall it was one of the hottest springs on record with late June and early July temperatures of 45-48 C. This was really hard on not just the vineyard, but also the crews and critters. This early heat resulted in small berry size and limited growth. We managed the heat fairly well with properly timed irrigation, but a new challenge was developing in the form of leaf hoppers. In a typical season our flowering cover crops provide ample nectar to the many predator insects that also feed on leafhoppers giving us adequate control, but with the extreme heat the bloom and nectar was almost non-existent. Not only did the predators suffer, but the heat accelerated the leafhopper growth. We estimated we had 7-8 generations in 2021 compared to a normal year of 3-4. As a result our canopy was devastated by the end of September and made finishing the red grapes a real challenge.
If that wasn’t enough, wildfires blocked out the sun for days and tainted the red grapes with smoke. Oh wait there’s more, we got to finish up the year with an atmospheric river flooding the lower mainland and virtually cutting off the interior with road washouts. In the end we managed to make some great white wines and rosé, but with all the challenges to the reds we made the hard decision to sell the wine in bulk, so if you’re wondering where the 2021 reds went, we don’t know.
Image above: Oct 8, 2021 Zinfandel
After 2021, we thought 2022 can’t get much worse. Well, it tried for a bit. We had one of the coolest and wettest springs with the vineyard blooming 20 days later than normal. This could have spelled disaster with mildew. It is always so profound how resilient regenerative organic systems are. By season’s end we could only find a couple bunches with any kind of mildew, while some entire vineyards in the area were wiped out.
Given that there was no way to predict that we would have summer-like temperatures through September and October we thinned all the reds down to single bunches. The lighter crop ripens sooner. So what looked like it could be another train wreck for the reds resulted in an outstanding vintage with perfect maturity and great acidity. We just finished pressing off the last lots and they are tasting great with beautiful intensity.
Image above: June 20, 2022 Cool and wet is great for growing grass.
Speaking of grass, we are excited to announce that in February 2023 we will be offering grass finished beef and pastured pork for sale. We have been growing our herds for a few seasons now while also waiting on the opening of a local abattoir. The time has finally come. Professionally butchered, vacuum sealed and frozen. Limited quantities to start. Send us a message if you are interested.
Photo above: Pigs get a treat of organic cherries that didn’t make the grade.
Photo above: Gene and the Cows. The herd is moved daily to a new ¼ acre.
It is with deep sadness that we mark the passing of Shelly’s dad, Clifford Allen Larsen (Big Al) this fall. Al and Shirly moved from Wetaskiwin AB to Oliver 5 years ago and in that time Al worked summers in the wine shop with his grandkids. Often seen in the mornings walking his dog Mac in front of the pasture. He will be missed.
Shelly, Gene and Farmily