Droughts in Canada are less severe than in balmier climes because the long, cold winters suppress evaporation from the soil. Yet with temperatures as much as 5 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) above normal this year, the dryness has been anything but mild, affecting industries from the oil sands to wine makers.
"The weather has been perfect so far," said Grant Stanley, director of viticulture and winemaking at 50th Parallel Estate in Lake Country, north of Kelowna, where the growth cycle is a few weeks ahead of schedule. "We're thinking this could be a great harvest."
Whenever I travel across Canada, it's rare that I don't have a case of wine to share with family and friends and it usually involves crossing a provincial border. I have travelled home to Saskatchewan with 24 bottles of wine as luggage on a flight and have never been afraid of being caught. When I find great bottles of wine that my family and friends will enjoy I pop them in the mail. I am essentially the Han Solo of Canadian wines and beer.
Lawyers for a man arrested for transporting too much booze from Quebec to New Brunswick argued in court Tuesday that the trade barriers restricting the flow of alcohol and other goods across provincial borders are unconstitutional.
The growth of the industry has been immense, with the Ontario Craft Cider Association projecting sales of Ontario cider to reach $35 million by 2018, with employment in the sector increasing to 350 jobs. More importantly, he said, it would provide a shot in the arm to Ontario's "struggling apple industry" as cideries buy 10 per cent of all apples grown in the province.
The heat has been unprecedented in the city, and it's been no different in the countryside. If you look at the average timing of the growing season over the last couple decades, 2015 is currently (and exceptionally) three weeks ahead of schedule; at some wineries, harvests that usually start in September have already begun.