Summerland Research Station

This page is a work in progress

Canada is considered a cold climate for wine growing; it was necessary for wine producing grape growers to find the right varieties to be able produce wines in Canada. The Summerland Research Station developed research programs to aid pioneers who challenged the land, the climate and the world to establish Canada's wine industry.

Agriculture research can be traced back over 130 years in Canada, June 02, 1886, the Experimental Farm Station Act received Royal Assent. The passage of this legislation marked the creation of the first five experimental farms located at Nappan, Nova Scotia; Ottawa, Ontario; Brandon, Manitoba; Indian Head, Saskatchewan (then called the North-West Territories); and Agassiz, British Columbia. From this beginning has grown the current system of over 40 research establishments that stretch from St. John's West, Newfoundland, to Saanichton, British Columbia.

The Agassiz Research and Development Centre was established by the Government of Canada under the Experimental Farm Station Act in 1886. The Centre consists of two independent research sites: Agassiz and Summerland. It is also associated with a satellite location, the Clearbrook sub-station, located 50 kilometres away in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

The Dominion Experimental Farm at Summerland, British Columbia was established in 1914 to provide research in helping to solve the problems of a developing agricultural industry. The task of establishing the farm was given to R.H. Helmer.

Dominion Experimental Farm at Summerland BC
Dominion Experimental Farm, Summerland, BC- 1914-

Summerland Experiement Station 194-1920
Summerland Experiement Station 1914-1920

Dominion Experimental Farm at Summerland BC
Dominion Experimental Farm, Summerland, BC

Helmer’s replacement in 1923 was William Hunter, who built a more critical infrastructure, including a water storage dam, barns, housing, and the superintendent’s house that still stands in the Ornamental Gardens.

Hunter continued the station’s work with fruit, vegetable and ornamental breeding, in 1924 he brought dairy cows onto the property, and in 1925 initiated research into spraying for fruit pests.

The early research dealt with a wide range of crops, poultry, swine, and cattle. The scope of the research has narrowed over the years with the decrease in variety of crops grown in interior British Columbia. Now the primary concerns are with tree fruit and grape production and with food processing. In 1959, the farm was amalgamated with the Science Services Laboratories of Plant Pathology, established in 1921, and Entomology, established in 1912, to form the Summerland Research Station. Although the achievements of this station resulted primarily from the efforts of the station staff, the progress and impact of these achievements in the industry could not have been as effective without the in- valuable cooperation and assistance of many other individuals and organizations.


A J Mann worked on cherry research

In 1920, A.J. (Arthur) Mann, formerly a provincial horticulturist in Penticton, was hired and put in charge of field husbandry and forage crops. He was the first university graduate to be hired by the station. Mann reported for duty on his first day at the farm wearing a white shirt, a tie, and gloves. He saw a crew of men building a rock wall and enquired where he could find the superintendent, explaining that he was the new employee. Helmer, who enjoyed rolling up his sleeves and "digging in," welcomed Mann from among the crew and suggested that he, too, pitch in and help. Mann did so but not for long. He continued to wear a white shirt and tie until he retired in 1955.

In 1924 R.C. Palmer began the first apple breeding project, testing clonal root stocks from East Mailing, England. Projects of importance to fruit growing over the years include breeding programs which have produced varieties such as the Spartan, Saint, and Summerred apples, the Sam, Star, Van, Stella, and Lapins cherries, and the Skaha apricot. In 1935 several years of study determined that boron deficiency was the cause of drought spot-corky core, which halted a rapidly growing problem which threatened to put some Okanagan growers out of business

In 1928 the tree fruit research staff was increased with the hiring of J.E. (Ed) Britton, from Kelowna, BC, his responsibilities included stone fruits and honey bee pollination.

The story of the Food Processing Section at Summerland began June 13, 1929, when the Canadian government's first food technologist, F. E. (Ted) Atkinson, returned to the Okanagan Valley from Oregon State University with a specialist degree in fruit and vegetable processing technology. Upon joining the staff of the Dominion Experimental Station at Summerland, his first assignment was to assist the local fruit dehydration and canning industry. From 1929 to 1935 he studied sun drying and forced-air dehydration of apricots; dehydration of prunes, canning of prunes, apricots, peaches, pears, and tomatoes.

In 1933 the staff was increased further with the appointment of C. C. (Charlie) Strachan as chemist. Atkinson and Strachan worked together to develop an apple juice processing industry in Canada, to utilize Canadian cherries in candied fruit, and to develop an automated process for fruit candying.

During wartime, Canada began fortifying its apple juice with ascorbic acid as a source of vitamin C. The Food Processing Section developed the quality control methods used to determine the amount of vitamin C in clarified apple juice and was instrumental in developing the technology for commercial production of opalescent apple juice in Canada. With this work began the Section's long association with the apple-processing cooperatives owned by the fruit growers, which later amalgamated to become Sun Rype Products Ltd., the largest apple processor in Canada

The 'Spartan' is an apple cultivar developed by Dr. R. C Palmer and introduced in 1936 from the Federal Agriculture Research Station in Summerland, BC, now known as the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre - Summerland. The 'Spartan' is notable for being the first new breed of apple produced from a formal scientific breeding program. The apple was supposed to be a cross between two North American cultivars, the 'McIntosh'and the 'Newtown Pippin', but recently, genetic analysis showed the 'Newtown Pippin' was not one of the parents and its identity remains a mystery. The 'Spartan' apple is considered a good all-purpose apple. The apple is of medium size and has a bright-red blush, but can have background patches of greens and yellows.

Home economist Dorothy Britton was appointed in 1952 to staff the then newly constructed test kitchen. Since 1957, the size of the Section's staff has remained relatively constant. Dugal MacGregor was appointed in 1957 to replace Charlie Strachan, who had moved to become Director of the Research Station, Morden, Man In 1959 Strachan returned as Director of the Research Station at Summerland, where he served until his death in 1971. In 1965, Ted Atkinson retired after 36 years as Head of the Food Processing Section. He was succeeded by Dugal MacGregor until 1971 and since then by John Kitson. Adrian Moyls retired in 1972 and was replaced by Darrell Wood, who served as food technologist and enologist until 1976. Most recently appointed to the professional staff were food biochemist Hans Buttkus in 1974 and enologist Gary Strachan in 1977.

Dick Palmer, who had been in England on an exchange program, returned to Summerland in September 1932 as superintendent. He passed away suddenly in 1953. He is remembered not only for his association with the Summerland Experimental Farm for 33 years, but also for his vigorous work on tree fruit variety development, improved orchard husbandry, and his keen interest in ornamental horticulture throughout the valley. The Palmer Memorial Research Grant, the Palmer Memorial Scholarship fund, and the Palmer Memorial Trophy were established at the University of British Columbia in his honor. Richard Claxton (Dick) Palmer was the son of R.M. Palmer, one time Deputy Minister of Agriculture for British Columbia. His brother, E.F. Palmer, was the director of the Ontario Horticulture Experimental Station at Vineland. The Palmers were dedicated agriculturists.

J.C. Wilcox was transferred from Plant Pathology, under McLarty, to the experimental farm, under Palmer, in 1937. He continued his work in soil and plant nutrition and became particularly interested in irrigation. The year 1937 is generally recognized as the beginnings of the Plant Nutrition, Soils, and Irrigation Section of the research station. Wilcox is believed to be the first commercial grape grower in British Columbia. He started a vineyard near Salmon Arm, BC around 1891

In the 1950s, at the request of apple growers,  a Summerland Research Station scientist, John Bowen, worked with F. A. Atkinson, the station’s director, to develop cider from the Okanagan's abundant sweet eating apples.

Donald V Fisher
Donald V Fisher

In a distinguished career with Agriculture Canada Dr. Fisher served as Assistant Superintendent and Head of the Pomology Section, and then as Director of the Summerland Research Station.

Honours and awards won during his career include an Award of Merit from the Canadian Horticultural Council, the Stark Award for Horticultural Research and a Fellowship of the American Society for Horticultural Research. He served as President of the American Pomological Society, Vice-President of the American Society for Horticultural Science and Editor of the Canadian Journal of Plant Science.

On three occasions Dr Fisher served as President of the BC Interior Region of the Agricultural Institute of Canada. Dr Fisher received the Silver Acorn Award from the Boy Scouts of Canada in recognition of his community service as Scoutmaster of the Summerland Boy Scouts Troop for 27 years.


Andrew G Reynolds in his book Grapevine Breeding Programs for the Wine Industry states The wine Industry in BC consisted mainly of V. Labruscana types,French-American Hybrids ( Le Chaunac, Marechal Foch) and some obscure hybrides, Okanagan Riesling In 1966 -7 a grape-breeding program was Initiated at the Summerland Research Station under Donald V Fisher and visiting scientist Catherine Bailey (Rutgers University). The objective was to produce interspecific hybrides for wine product and table use. The gaol was grapes that were winter hardy and matured early. Reynold retired in 67 and Lyall G Denby took over. Out of over 50 crosses only Marechal Foch and Sovereign Opal obtained some popularity.

Gary Strachan ~ holds a cluster of Sovereign Coronation seedless table grapes. 

As the years passed the research focused around fruits and vegetables along with farm animals. It was not until the 1970s that research began to encourage wine production. In 1977 Gary Strachan joined the staff of the Food Processing Section by 1978, Strachan needed more assistance with his energetic wine evaluation program, and Barbara Edwards was hired as technician.

Strachan and his staff made wine from the short listed Summerland breeding selections along with wines from the Becker Project and several BCMAF sites.  One site was at the Inkameep Vineyard, another at what is now Zanatta Winery on Vancouver Island.    They also had a large cooperative project at the station to evaluate (mostly) Eastern European grape varieties.   

Denby, Lyall (1923-): Director of pomology and grape research at the Summerland Research Station from 1971 until he retired in 1983, the Regina-born Denby joined the scientific staff at Summerland in 1950 after completing a master's degree in agriculture at the University of British Columbia. He was already an authority on ornamental plants, having gained experience working at a Vancouver nursery. At Summerland he gravitated toward vegetables and later toward tree fruits and grapes. He took over the grape program, with emphasis on developing winter-hardy varieties that had been launched by Dr. D.V. Fisher, who had moved on to become Summerland's director.  Like many of his professional peers, Denby had reservations about the viability of vinifera grapes. Consequently, Summerland sought to breed varieties with vinifera flavor characters but with the vigor and hardiness of hybrids. The only wine grape from this work that became a commercial variety was the muscat-flavored sovereign opal, produced only by Calona as a varietal. Denby said later that other promising varieties were under development when he was diverted from that research to work on the so-called Becker Project, which focused on German vinifera. "I was forced into it," Denby said. "I would have preferred to put much of my own time into the next two generations of crosses. We had some good stuff coming on; opal was only one example." 

With a small Canadian delegation, Denby toured the Soviet Union in 1973 and arranged to bring back from a research station in Yalta a number of Russian varieties. These included matsvani and rkatsetelli which were grown at Inkameep and which Brights turned into interesting varietals in small lots before the winery's accountants decided sales were too small to continue. The Russian varieties now are largely uprooted from Okanagan vineyards.

In the 80's work continued on virus diseases of tree fruits and grapes and a major achievement of this section is the development of a method whereby viruses can be eliminated from tree fruit propagation stocks by chemotherapy treatment.

The development of classical sparkling wine in British Columbia dates from trials started in 1983, by Gary Strachan when he was at the Summerland Research Station. Soon after arriving there from Ontario in 1977, he noticed the wineries all complained that British Columbia grapes were excessively acidic. "Why don't we exploit that and make sparkling wines?" he asked himself.

Noted author John Schreiner credits researcher Gary Strachan for coming up with the idea of putting Okanagan acidity to good use by making sparkling wines. According to Schreiner, Strachan launched National Research Council-funded trials in 1983, making several batches at the Summerland Research Station. Harry McWatters became involved (as did winemaker Eric von Krosigk) and Steller’s Jay Winery eventually became a reality.

Sumac Ridge founder Harry McWatters soon involved himself with Strachan's research project, which was funded by a grant from the National Research Council.

Durning the eighties annual two day workshops were held with all of BC winemakers invited to attend.   The top experimental wines were assessed in a blind tasting and the results were accumulated in order for the team to establish research priorities. 

Dr Helmut Becker head of the German Geisenheim Institute. He traveled to the Okanagan and Ontario advising on which plants would be best suited to the region. In the Okanagan he supplied free of charge twenty-seven Vinifera Varieties for trial in 3 acre test plots running from 1977 to 1985. They included Pinot Blanc, Ehrenfelser, Müller-Thurgau and Riesling. These trials became known as the Becker Project . In Ontario he worked with Paul Bosc.

The completion of a new 12,036-square-metre office-laboratory building in 1986 marked a significant step in the station’s history.

Hans Buchler and his wife Christine came to the Okanagan in 1981 from Switzerland, where they had operated an organic market garden. They planted grapes in 1983 and became members of SOOPA (Similkameen Okanagan Organic Producers Association) in 1990. Hans has been a member of the board of SOOPA for many years and is past president of the COABC (Certified Organic Associations of B.C.).

He was a driving force behind the B.C. Wine Grape Council and was instrumental in turning the B.C. Enology and Viticulture Conference into the third largest of its kind in North America. He was a founding member and past president of the Certified Organic Association of British Columbia, has been a major contributor to the National Wine Standards and the Canadian Grape Wine Research Strategy and has sat on many other boards and committees.

He was presented with 2011 Award for Excellence in Leadership, by the B.C. Agriculture Council, of which he was board member for four years.

Lynn Bremmer has been involved in the B.C. Wine industry since 1973.  She was a technician and assistant winemaker at Andres Wines for 7 years and winemaker at Brights Wines for 11 years.  She was also instrumental in the establishment of Gray Monk Cellars.  She has served on the research and development committee for the B.C. Wine Industry working closely with our federal research facility in Summerland, has been an advisor to Okanagan University College on Winemaking & Viticulture courses and to the BC government on crop insurance.

She was on the panel of VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) tasters and was a director for the B.C. Wine Institute and the BC Grape Growers association.  Presently Lynn is the chairwoman of the BC Wine Grape Council where the levies collected from industry are distributed to scientists for R&D

The B.C. government (2014) recognized the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland for 100 years of providing important research for the sector with a Century Farm Award. Penticton MLA Dan Ashton presented the award to MP Dan Albas and the staff of the Summerland facility

The Soverign Opal (Summerland Selection 166) was developed at the Summerland Station in 1976. A cross between Muscat and Marchal Foch, Calona Wines was the only one to release it at this time. In 2015 under new label Conviction Sovereign Opal 2014 “The Industrialists" was released.

The Becker project 1977- 1982 the Federal, Ontario and British Columbia governments funded a massive "pullout" of labrusca vines, giving wineries funding to replace them with vinifera ones.  Growers received $8100 an acre to pull out the vines. Pinot Blanct was the most successful variety in the Becker project.  Dr. Helmut Becker from Germany, a global wine consultant, ran a series of experimental plantings and trials of vitis vinifera grape varieties. 

In 1978 the Becker Project planted 30 types of grapes at what was the Monashee Vineyard on Black Sage Road. Federal and provincial governments, grape growers, and some wineries financed this experiment in viticulture and oenology. At a time when Labrusca and other hybrids were commonly planted, the Becker Project included varieties like Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, and Spatburgunder.

The Heiss family, founders of Gray Monk Winery, has had a profound impact on Okanagan wine growing. They were the first to import clones of Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Auxerrois from Alsace. They facilitated the Becker Project, an eight-year trial of German vines that, by its conclusion in 1985, proved the viability of varieties now among the most important in the Okanagan. Among all the wine producers in North American, they alone nurture the hard-to-grow Rotberger grape to make notable rosé.

Úrbez-Torres, José Ramón, Ph.D is currently (2018) doing reseach on Grapevine trunk diseases in BC: identification and characterization of the causal agents, epidemiological studies, and development and implementation of effective management strategies

Dr John Vielvoye
Dr John Vielvoye

Dr John Vielvoye, Viticulturerist, British Columbia Dept. Of Agriculture was a grape growing specialits. He worked on the "Grape Project " that helped develope the vinyards in Lillooet and Fort Berens Estate Winery Ltd . The Lillooet Grape project saw the planting of four small test vineyards in 2006 and the installation of about 80 temperature sensors through the valley between Lytton and Lillooet.

He now works as a grape growing consultant to wineries and gives workshops,”

In 2008 he published the following:

I’d like to begin by providing a check list of things I believe a person should consider before planting grapes. The checklist to decide if it is feasible to plant a vineyard that I suggest is as follows:

1. Visit and talk to good grape growers and local winemakers and consultants. Find out what works and what does not work.

2. Will this be an organic or conventional vineyard?

3. Read and educate yourself about grape growing before planting a vineyard. Gather good reference material and use it. Extrapolate from and to other similar areas.

4. Plant an experimental vineyard to evaluate varieties and climate for at least 5 years.

5. Decide what kind of grape to grow (fresh, wine) and when the plants should be ordered. Nurseries may not have all the varietise you want. You may have to scrounge for cuttings and grow your own plants.

Canadian Winters

Canadian winters can be tough on wine grape vines. A single extreme cold snap can damage vines and reduce crop yields by 50%.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers in Summerland, British Columbia, are collecting data from multiple sources to determine the best practices for protecting vineyards against extreme cold.

The wine industry has evolved significantly in British Columbia since the 1980s, when it was fairly small and based on winter-hardy hybrid varieties. In 1990, there were only 17 wineries in British Columbia but that number has since grown closer too 300 not to mention meaderies and Cider Houses..

In the 1990s, vintners replanted all their vineyards with premium Vitis vinifera varieties, such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay, to take advantage of a growing domestic market and emerging trade opportunities. While these vines can tolerate some freezing, they are severely tested when temperatures approach record lows between November and March.

Too much cold kills grape buds and can damage the vine's tissue and roots. If the damage is serious enough, it will kill the vine outright. In some cases, a vine will produce buds normally but will collapse and die after becoming stressed later in the season.

"It's really important to understand how we can help vines weather cold snaps that occur periodically, and to develop new vineyard management practices that can improve the cold hardiness of the grape vines."

- Carl Bogdanoff, Biologist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


Facilities at the Summerland Research and Development Centre

  • 320 hectare site, with approximately 90 irrigated hectares planted to various tree fruits and wine grapes
  • Isolated virus orchard
  • Separate orchard and vineyard dedicated to entomological and disease research
  • Three research greenhouses, many controlled environment growth chambers and cold storage rooms
  • Research scale controlled atmosphere facility
  • Cold hardiness testing laboratory
  • Food research, and extraction and fractionation laboratory pilot plant
  • Sensory evaluation laboratory
  • Standard and level II containment microbiology laboratories
  • Advanced microscopy facility with scanning, transmission and confocal capability
  • Small lot winery
  • Molecular laboratories with advanced molecular analytical capacity including real-time and droplet-digital PCR and regular and next-generation DNA sequencing
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) laboratories
  • Insect rearing rooms
  • Drainage lysimeter
  • Large plant pathogen (fungal and bacterial) collection
  • Canadian Plant Virus Collection
  • Ornamental Gardens and Museum


Current research activities

Improving the sector’s capacity to resist climate change and other stresses to our physical environment

  • Develop state-of-the-art, high resolution digital soil and climate maps for major agricultural regions of British Columbia (B.C.)
  • Develop geo-referenced models to assess and predict climate change’s effects on: water supply and demand; greenhouse gas emissions; soil carbon sequestration; soil biodiversity; pest distribution and ecology; and crop distribution with consideration of their vulnerability to environmental risks (For example, winter injury)
  • Assist domestic and international marketing efforts by developing carbon and water footprints and life-cycle analyses for wine grape and tree fruit production systems and value chains
  • Develop regional models to determine ecological goods and services associated with farmland ecosystems
  • Evaluate the effects of and improve the understanding of relationships among soil, nutrient, water and ground cover vegetation management practices on soil health, biodiversity and overall resilience of orchards and vineyards
  • Develop new knowledge of relationships between cover crops, amendments, mulches, soil biology, root-soil-water relations and fruit quality, and how environmental variation influences these variables
  • Develop integrated management practices that reduce nutrient deficiencies, optimize water stress, and improve fruit quality while minimizing use of water and synthetic fertilizer and losses of nitrogen and phosphorus to the environment
  • Enhance knowledge of the impacts and ecology of soil-borne pests and pathogens that affect the resilience of farmland and lead to new strategies to assess biological indicators of soil health
  • Develop integrated pre-plant soil management practices to suppress the activity of soil-borne pests while optimizing soil fertility, water availability, root-microbe symbioses and early growth of perennial fruit crops
  • Identify wine grape and fruit tree rootstocks that resist/tolerate pests in soils, use water or nutrients more efficiently, and produce better quality fruit

Improving the sector’s ability to respond to diseases, viruses, and other biological threats

  • Identify and develop biocontrol agents (predators, parasitoids, viruses, bacteria, nematodes and fungi) for major pests of crops in the region and across Canada
  • Assess the distributions, population dynamics and damage potential of nematode pests on the rise in western Canada
  • Develop management strategies that use reduced risk chemicals or non-chemical alternatives to control important pest insects such as cherry fruit flies, spotted wing drosophila, apple maggot, apple clearwing moth, leafhoppers, mealy bugs and scale insects
  • Develop area-wide control strategies (For example, sterile insects, pheromone mating disruption) and monitoring processes for tree fruit crops to be included in new protocols for export markets
  • Identify what determines overwinter survival, spread and population growth of new invasive pests such as spotted wing drosophila, brown marmorated stink bug, and apple maggot
  • Maintain and continue to expand the Canadian plant virus collection as a national and international resource
  • Provide national and regional responses to emerging crises caused by viruses, fungal and bacterial pathogens, in particular those affecting high-value horticultural crops
  • Discover, characterize and identify viral, fungal and bacterial pathogens of grapevine, fruit trees or small fruits and develop diagnostic tools to detect them
  • Continue development and implementation of effective field and post-harvest management strategies to control and lessen the impact of fungal, bacterial and virus diseases on plant health
  • Provide new insights into the molecular biology of plant viruses, and evaluate the potential of host proteins as targets for antiviral strategies
  • Develop management strategies to eliminate leafroll and red blotch virus diseases in grapevines
  • Continue to generate genomic resources for several important fungal and bacterial pathogens to reveal population shifts and lead to the development of new strategies to combat diseases such as apple scab and fireblight

Improving the sector’s capacity to weather stress from climate, weather, and other physical challenges

  • Developed a BC Water Demand Model for regional water supply and demand which has been applied in approximately 30 BC communities in BC and will assist in assuring agricultural water supply is maintained in the future
  • Developed industry-adopted management techniques and rootstock selection that minimize risks of winter damage associated with climate variability in grapevines and rootstocks
  • Developed new methods for using organic soil amendments and mulches to moderate water stress, provide nutrients and enhance replant establishment
  • Developed high-frequency or pulsed irrigation to conserve water while optimizing the growth of fruit trees and grapevines and the quality of fruit and wine
  • Produced improved guidelines for tree fruit and wine grape fertilization strategies using application of nitrogen and phosphorus during irrigation
  • Developed best management practices to improve ground water quality in the Sumas-Abbotsford aquifer by reducing nitrate leaching from raspberry fields
  • Helped to develop Sustainable Wine growing BC, a program which provides grower training and assessment to promote the sustainable production of high quality wine grapes in BC

Today Patricia Bowen, Research Scientist, Viticulture and Plant Physiology

Areas of Expertise:

  • Sustainable practices for producing high quality wine grapes
  • Climatic and edaphic effects vine and fruit development
  • Physiological influences on grape berry compositional development

Current Projects:

  • To develop sustainable vineyard irrigation practices both to conserve water and improve wine grape quality
  • Improved production systems for wine grapes
  • Use of GIS to determine the influence of vineyard soils, mesoclimates and management practices on vine development, grape composition and wine sensory attributes.


Summerland Ornamental Gardens

The Summerland Ornamental Gardens In existence for over 100 years, this 15-acre heritage botanical garden is open to the public year round.  Suitable for walks, hikes, picnics, and garden research, admission is by a suggested donation of $5 per person.

Originally established in 1916 as part of the Agricultural Research Station, the Gardens were designed to help new residents, many from the U.K. and other rainy climates, choose ornamental plants for their gardens that would be suitable for the dry Okanagan climate

The Agassiz Research and Development Centre was established by the Government of Canada under The Experimental Farm Station Act in 1886. The Centre consists of two independent research sites: Agassiz and Summerland. It is also associated with a satellite location—the Clearbrook sub-station, located 50 kilometres away in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

The scientific research of the Agassiz Research and Development Centre addresses national agricultural priorities in the areas of horticultural and field crop production and protection. These priorities include helping to adapt and remain competitive in domestic and global markets. The research mainly focuses on peri-urban agriculture, which seeks to improve understanding of the flows, interactions and impacts of agriculture systems within densely populated regions

Although not directly involved in vineyard and grape research some of their research would also affect fruits and grape plants.

The Kentville Research and Development Centre was established in 1911 in Kentville, Nova Scotia in Western Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. It also operates the Nappan Research Farm, located near Amherst, Nova Scotia.

The Centre is a Minor Use Pesticide Program site, and is accountable for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s only beef research program in the Atlantic Region, conducted at the Nappan Experimental Farm. Nappan Experimental Farm is one of the original five experimental farms established by the Dominion Experimental Farms Act. The Centre is responsible for science activities in one of nine intensively-studied watersheds in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s WEBS (Watershed Evaluation of Beneficial Management Practices) program.

The Centre focuses its research in three key areas:

  • Primary production and integrated crop production technology for the Atlantic region
  • Food safety and quality
  • Environmental stewardship: improving performance of the agricultural production system
  • Breeding strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and grapes; evaluating their properties and quality as well as those of advanced selections of apples and pears

Please see Kentville Reasearch and Deveopment Centre


Vineland Research centre 1906

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre was created through a gift by Moses F. Rittenhouse in 1906. This generous endowment contributed to the emergence of a competitive tender fruit industry, and more recently, wine and greenhouse industries, in one of Canada’s most unique geographic regions.

Vineland is located in the town of Lincoln, Niagara Region. It consists of 35 buildings (165,000 square feet) with a 218 acre land base. The site is located within a unique combination of micro-climate and an "urban-rural" environment protected by the Ontario Greenbelt legislation.

In 2006, a panel was established by the Ontario's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to develop a vision that would lead to the transformation of Vineland into a world-class research and innovation centre.

In 2017 the only research that the centre is conducting related the Ontario wine industry would be their Appassimento wine chamber technology & grape drying program.


The University of British Columbia has a wine research centre. Founding Director was Prof. Hennie van Vuuren. Murry Isman is the current director He is trying to expand the footprint of the Wine Research Centre to include scientists at UBC Okanagan  (Kelowna campus).  I am also working to build or rebuild relationships between UBC and major vintners in the Province.

A research project partly funded by Genome BC allows Dr. Vivien Measday, Associate Professor at the UBC Wine Research Centre, and her graduate student Jay Martiniuk to work with Dumayne and other growers and vintners. “We are interested in identifying the yeast populations present on the grapes in the vineyards, and specifically yeast that would be good for winemaking,” explains Dr. Measday.



Additional material will be added when information has been received. Requests started to go out months ago.

The varietals … which proved to be the most winter hardy, according to the Agriculture Canada Summerland Research Station, were Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Chardonnay. ( 2010 report)

First apple tree planted at Okanagan Mission by Jesuit missionary, Father Pandosy, in 1862

J.M. Robinson, a newcomer from Manitoba who was unsuccessful at gold mining at Camp Hewitt, now known as Peachland, was the first person to grow soft fruits commercially in the Okanagan. He formed a land company at Peachland, developed small orchards that included irrigation systems, and sold them to easterners settling in the area. He moved to the Okanagan Valley of central British Columbia in 1890. He was so impressed by the peaches grown on a ranch there that he founded the towns of Peachland, Summerland and Naramata, and enticed hundreds of prairie families to settle in the region. He is also the original builder of the Naramata Inn.

The first settlement identified on maps of the Okanagan Valley was Priest Encampment located on the shores of Garnett Lake. Later development began on the shores of Okanagan Lake. The upper benches continued to be an important transportation route and a number of small communities were constructed or were planned for development. They included Upper Trout Creek, Balcony, the Prairie Valley Townsite, Mineola and Appledale. In 1892 Upper Trout Creek was established.

The first commercial orchard was planted in the 1890s in Trout Creek, 

The Fur Trade first brought non native people to the Okanagan Valley. The search for gold brought more people

The name “Summerland” appeared in 1902 with the opening of a post office on the shores of Lake Okanagan. The following year, the Summerland Development Company was formed to build a town site on the lakeshore, now known as “Lower Town.” The Company was primarily controlled by Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), who wanted to develop land in the interior of British Columbia to grow fruit for the growing CPR transportation and hotel chain. 

 Summerland played host to the first College in the province when Okanagan College opened in 1906. A large fire in Lower Town in March 1922 accelerated the move of many businesses from Lower Town to the flats on the hills above, then known as West Summerland, which became the current downtown core.  The completion of the Kettle Valley Railway in 1916 opened up the area to the coast and the rest of Canada, which was especially important for access to fruit  and poultry markets.

SunRype grew out of the fresh fruit business in the Okanagan Valley. In 1946, BC's fruit growers created BC Fruit Processing Ltd. to produce a 100% pure apple juice, made with apples straight from the orchard. They named the new juice “SunRype,” and so it began.

Summerland Research Station map

Kentville Reserach Centre


W.W. Fleming, Agriculture research Canada

Gary Strachan

Summerland Research Station

Manitoba Historical Society

Agriculture and Argo-food Canada

Summerland Museum

John Schreiner - numerous publications

Murray B. Isman PhD 
Interim Director, Wine Research Centre UBC

Grapevine Breeding Programs for the Wine Industry

Bruce Ewert -winemaker.

The Government of Canada

Lynn and John Bremmer

Sue MacGreagor

Robert A Bell

information or comments welcome


* Please report errors - thank you


Home | About |Sitemap | History |New | Contact Us |Tourism |2018 Robert A Bell