Fraser Valley: Canada Wine Region

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007 at 12:00 am

The Fraser Valley stretches from Hope, in the northeast, to just east and south of Vancouver, following the course of the Fraser River as it flows towards the sea. The combined Fraser Valley and greater Vancouver areas are known as the Lower Mainland.

Surrounding the Valley are the Coast Mountains to the north, the Fraser Canyon and Cascade mountains to the northeast, the Canada/US border to the south and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the west.

The region’s geology tells a fascinating story of mountain building, glacial activity and volcanic processes that have occurred over many millions of years.

Despite its violent history, the area is today generally flat with occasional rolling hills. Variations in rainfall across the Valley are common, but significant precipitation occurs in the fall and spring. July and August can be very dry and growers must manage irrigation programs.

The winery that established the Fraser Valley as a credible wine-growing region was Domaine de Chaberton. It opened in 1991 south of Langley, close to the US border.

The small number of wineries and vineyards in the region may be a reflection of its challenging viticultural climate. While frost presents little concern, limited degree days make difficult the ripening of grapes during certain vintages and in certain later-ripening grape varieties. Humidity in this coastal region can also encourage powdery mildew and unwanted botrytis.

These growing challenges seem to be no problem for other crops grown here. The fertile delta south of the Fraser River is Vancouver’s agricultural hinterland.