Friday, February 15, 2019

Winter Warmth May Cook Icewine Crop

by mattjosh (writer), Albuquerque, January 04, 2007


Winemakers in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern U.S. are fearful that persistently mild temperatures this winter will render their icewine crop fruitless or, at best, the largest late-harvest crop e

Canadian law states that grapes must be harvested and pressed at temperatures of less than -8C to be considered icewine, with similar standards in the States. This hard freeze results in a more concentrated juice, which then results in a sweet, golden elixir served with desert.

Typically icewine regions in North America see these temperatures around Christmas. The trouble is that if the grapes hang for too long on the vine, they begin to shrink and rot.

So far, it seems only Jost Vineyards of Nova Scotia, one winery of dozens afflicted by the unseasonal warmth, has seen temperatures cold enough to harvest their Vidal grapes, a popular icewine variety, and begin production of their 2006 icewine. Other areas, such as the Niagara Peninsula, have not yet been lucky enough to receive such a cold spell.

If the weather remains mild, many wineries will undoubtedly cut their losses and harvest what crop they can, opting to make late-harvest wine, rather than icewine. Late-harvest wines need not be frozen, but instead merely stay on the vine an unspecified time longer than usual, where they dehydrate and develop a sweeter, more concentrated juice.

Colio Estate Wines Ltd. just outside Windsor, Ontario, is one such winery. With 25 tons of grapes still on the vine, owners Patricia and Carlo Negri have decided to produce late-harvest wine, rather than risk losing the whole crop.

They two styles are clearly similar in process, and even similar in taste. So what is the main difference?


Icewines, delicate and in limited supply, command prices starting at about $40 CAD ($34 USD) for a 375ml bottle, and easily up to $80 CAD ($68 USD). Late harvest wines, however, due to less stringent regulations, greater supply, and inferior prestige, are typically sold for only a few dollars more than their normal-harvest equivalents, starting around $10-15.

Rest assured, though, all is not ill in the world of icewine. British Columbia's Okanagan Valley has been unimpeded by any poor weather, actually having gotten a head start on the harvest thanks to an unseasonably cold November.

About the Writer

mattjosh is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Winter Warmth May Cook Icewine Crop

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By V on January 04, 2007 at 04:02 pm
That is utterly fascinating! I am quite aware of the terrifying, current and projected effects of global warming ... but this is perhaps for me the most very frightening. A world without dessert wine to wash down my creme brule and drown my sorrows about a world falling apart ... I couldnt' bear it?!
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By mattjosh on January 04, 2007 at 04:25 pm
Well, to be fair to the globe, the experts so far are saying this is an unforeseen side effect of the El Nino pattern seen coming earlier this year. But whatever the reason for this freakish winter, it would be a crime to rob us of the right to make an icewine reduction sauce/syrup that can be turned into a glaze or sorbet. It's delish.
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