Late Harvest For Ice Wines in Vermont

 


A news outlet from Vermont's Lake Champlain Valley region in Vermont is reporting that ice wine harvests, were completed earlier this week by Shelburne Vineyards, one of several ice-wine producing wineries in the area.
 
“Generally the harvest takes place in December but this year they were harvested on January 6, the latest it has ever been for the vineyard,” My Lake Champlain Valley (MLCV) reported. 
 
The Lake Champlain region is home to more than three dozen wineries which specialize in cold-hardy grapes.
 
The harvest typically takes place when “the temperature is no warmer than 15 degrees for a span of a few days,” Shelburne owner Ken Albert said in an interview with local Fox affiliate WFFF.
 
While the late-season doesn't affect the grapes, it can make winemakers nervous.
 
“It gives a few ulcers because we need a few cold hours, like 24 to 36 hours of them, to do it,” he said. “We need it to get the grapes into the tank.”
 
The harvest takes about two hours and 10 or 15 people to the harvest. Once harvested, the ice wine grapes go into tanks smaller than those which would house dry wines.
 
It takes three days to squeeze the grapes, Albert told WFFF.
 
In an interview with WFFF the day of the harvest, Shelburne winemaker Ethan Joseph described why the temperature has to be 15 degrees Fahrenheit or colder and what happens when the grapes are pressed.
 
 “The temperature has to be cold enough to where the sugars in the grape aren't quite frozen,” Joseph said, standing amid the vines in pants, a puffy green jacket and a beanie. “When we go to press them the water stays as ice and the sugary solution is what we press out and we get a really good, sweet juice.”
The grapes take a few weeks or a month to ferment, Albert said. The wine rests for three months before the wine is bottled in late spring or early summer. 
 
According to the Vermont Grape and Wine Council (VGWC), the state is home to three varieties of cold-hardy red wine grapes: Frontenac, Marquette and St. Croix.
 
The state's white grapes are La Crescent, a grape designed by the University of Minnesota; Riesling and Traminette, a grape “recently developed by Cornell (University) which is a “hybrid of the classic Gewurztraminer, and produces a delightful, spicy wine,” the VGWC's website says.
 
The state is also home to mead wine, cider and fruit wines made “from combinations of apples, raspberries, pears, blueberries, cranberries and rhubarb.”
 

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