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D'Angelo's Okanagan winery unaffected by wild fires (con't)

Although there were major fires in the Oliver area, 55 km away, no fires have touched Naramata, D’Angelo said. 

Moreover the vast majority of fires were put out quickly except for those in Oliver and further southeast in Rock Creek, where D’Angelo goes camping.

“We had like 77 lightning strikes and that’s what ignited them. They put out 90 per cent of the fires within 24 hours.” 

That’s not to say his community hasn’t been affected by the fires but only in that water bombers have been using Lake Okanagan for filling up before disgorging their contents on the fires further south.

And D’Angelo can walk up the hill of a neighbour’s house and see smoke further down the valley, which has also come from Washington State.

“I’m right on the lake and they have these big bombers that come down and scoop water right off the lake,” he said.

In fact, D’Angelo said he got most of his information about the fires from the media, just like folks back in Ontario.

Those Oliver fires did come close to wineries in Oliver, the self-described “Wine Capital of Canada” - but none further north.

The Okanagan Valley has more than 200 wineries.

“There’s 40 on my street,” he said. “You can walk to 10 of them.”

D’Angelo said the valley is lush and green.

“I’m surrounded by vineyards on three sides and the lake on the fourth, I’m never going to burn here,” he said.

What has been burning, even in Oliver, are the dry hills with grass and pine needles beyond the irrigated vineyards.

D’Angelo grows Bordeaux varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon for blends as well as Pinot Noir, Tempranillo Miscela and a white wine Viognier.

He also has a guest house with five suites to accommodate some of the huge tourism that flocks to the valley from Alberta and Vancouver.

“People check in and they go wine tasting,” he said.

D’Angelo purchased the B. C. property - a couple of former apple orchards - in 2001, planted grapes in 2003, had his first harvest in 2005 and his wine shop opened in 2007.

He has 27 acres with eight planted compared to Amherstburg, a much older winery, with 50 acres and 35 planted.

He moved to the Okanagan, in part for health reasons.  

He has suffered from Guillain–Barré syndrome, an auto-immune disease, which sees a sudden onset of muscle deterioration.

“I contacted Guillain–Barré in 1993 and I used to vacation out here. And every time I came out here I actually felt a lot better because of the dry climate.

“I was paralyzed from the chest down for about three years. I walked with a cane for about 10 years.”

He’s virtually free of the syndrome now.

“It’s left me with a little bit of shakes in one hand and I have a little bit of muscle loss degradation in my legs. I’m not 100 per cent but I’m 95 - that’s pretty good.”

WindsorOntarioNews.com


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