While most people were inside staying out of last week’s icy cold weather, winery workers in Niagara, Canada hustled outside to start harvesting grapes for ice wine. According to Carolyn Hammond, from decanter.com, temperatures in Canada dropped below 17°F on January 3, 2008, marking the beginning of the ice wine harvest.
Ice wine (or Eiswein in German) is a dessert wine made from grapes that freeze while still on the vine. Once the air temperature is low enough, the water in the grapes will freeze into solid ice. During the pressing process, only the sweet concentrated juice can be extracted for fermentation and the ice stays behind with the grapes skins. Many producers must harvest the grapes very early in the morning as they need the grapes to come to a hard freeze before they can be processed.
Because the juice is so concentrated, ice wine’s sugar levels are equivalent to a Beerenauslese wine (the 2 nd sweetest level of German table wines) and are generally low in alcohol. Ice wines are typically expensive as only an extremely small amount of wine can be extracted from each grape and the harvest season lasts for just a few weeks. Canada and Germany are the most famous producers; however other countries like Austria , Australia , Hungary , and the United States also can make ice wine. Niagara wineries expect a good harvest this year, and anticipate their first release this spring.
Sadly, I’ve never tried ice wine, but I plan on changing that very soon with the 2004 Inniskillin Ice Wine for $41.99. Most ice wine ranges in price from $16 and up for a 375 ml bottle, depending on the producer. Are you excited for this years harvest and which ice wines have you tried?
Ice Wine Harvest Begins!
- Blog comment by christine, Jan 17, 2008.
I have had ice wine, some have been good and some have been crap! I am going to the Niagara Gala tomorrow night, I'll let you know the winners.
- Blog comment by Alesha, Jan 18, 2008.
Thanks Christine. Let me know how the event went, and if you have any wines to recommend.
- Reply by amour, Jan 23, 2010.
I can honestly give great praise to icewines from Pelee Island Wineries (CANADA).