India, victims of severe flooding last September, is now straining under outrageous heat.  Temperatures so far have been upward 47ºC (116.6ºF).  The heat, more reminiscent of Death Valley, 42ºC or 110ºF at the time of writing.  The number of most concern, unfortunately, is how many people have died.  Currently the death toll from the latest heat wave exceeds 1,400.  The government has set up ‘water camps” as a solution.  It is giving away free water and buttermilk, and encouraging people to drink.  The heatwave is expected to last into next week.  At least the monsoon is expected to come on time this year.  However, it can take a long time for the monsoons to reach all of India, so the monsoons might not be help many Indians need.

A vineyard in Lake Country, BC, near Kelowna ©Jodde Mason 2015

Heat, drought, and fire tend to go together, and BC is experiencing dramatic heat and an early   start to the fire season.  Kelowna, a small town in mainland BC known for wine and tourism is at great risk because of the fire season.  We talked before about how smoke can ruin a crop of grapes.  The smoke flavour can get into immature grapes and there is no way of purging it, and it is not a nice smoky taste, which is usually due to smoking a fragrant wood like cherry after the wine is bottled (although even this is not known to make good tasting wine.)  Wine picks up its most subjective flavours of what is around it.  When people talk about tasting say strawberry or lemon in a wine, they are talking about trace quantities of chemicals that resemble these flavours closely enough.  Super tasters will detect these flavours readily, while those with average or poor tasting abilities will usually miss them.  The precursors to these chemicals are found in soil and created during fermentation.  As a side note, the taste of oak, very mild smoke, or vanilla, it is usually from the cask.  If it is undrinkable and tastes like a forest fire, it is probably from smoke compounds that have infiltrated the grape.  Suffice to say that fire is bad news for grapes, and with an impending drought and its attendant higher than usual fire risk, vineyards like this one seen on the left could be in trouble this year.  Of course, drought in and of itself is also a problem for grapes.  All in all this year will probably bering as sparse harvest.  Kelowna and nearby towns are situated on a gigantic lake called Okanagan Lake.  For this reason, coupled with its wine growing, it is a popular tourist destination for western Canadians.  However, the lake is not treated and its water is not potable.  Lake Country, as it is called, is certainly vulnerable to drought.  It would take a wet sprint to avert drought at this point, but according to forecasters, this is not likely.  At the time of writing, there has only been one wild fire in the region, but the full effects of drought there have yet to be felt.


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