Yes it was cold enough to freeze grapes this past week, and ice wine flowed! Well at least frozen grape juice, but the wonderful ice wine is soon to follow. The BC Wine Institute issued the following press release about the latest ice wine harvest, and I am passing it along to you. Enjoy!
January 18, 2013 (Kelowna, BC)
The Icewine harvest has returned to British Columbia!
After last vintage’s second-earliest start on record on November 19 and 20, 2011 the majority of the Icewine harvest in the Okanagan was on January 11 and 12, 2013. Harvested at minus 8°Celsius or below, the wine made from these frozen grapes must reach quality standards including 35 brix of sugar to be called true Icewine.
While some Icewine was harvested in the early morning hours of January 1, 2013, the majority of the Icewine harvest continued just a few weeks later from 10:30 PM on January 11, continuing to the early morning hours of January 12, ending at about 5:00 AM. The BC Wine Authority noted that 27 of the 31 potential wineries picked that weekend, collecting approximately 450 tons of frozen grapes. Temperatures during harvest ranged from minus 9°to minus 14° Celsius, and the harvest was spread around the Okanagan Valley, from north to south.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna picked 6.25 tons of Zweigelt for Icewine at the Summerhill Vineyard and Eidse Brothers Vineyard on Friday night, beginning at 12:00 AM in minus 11° weather. The grapes were at 42 brix at pressing – much above the requirement of minimum of 35 brix. Unfortunately, the winery was too late for their Chardonnay Icewine grapes. Summerhill’s CEO Ezra Cipes explained that “deer and birds ate our entire crop of Chardonnay Icewine this year, despite netting the grapes to protect them.” The wildlife also reduced the amount of Zweigelt Icewine available as they ate about three quarters of the potential harvest. Cipes explained that the winery has no deer fencing to protect the grapes and also has a nature preserve on the property – perfect for a family of deer.
Van Westen Vineyards in Naramata began picking their Icewine at 2:00 AM on January 12. With temperatures at -11°, the inner cluster berries were thoroughly frozen. By 4:00 PM that day, the temperature had warmed to -6°and the team was still pressing frozen grapes. The winery picked about 1.7 tons of Icewine overall.
Oliver’s Tinhorn Creek Vineyards picked their Kerner Icewine at 5:00 AM on Saturday, January 12. The winery reports that they also picked their Icewine on the same day in 2012 – January 12.
The Icewine varieties picked are diverse in the Okanagan Valley, ranging from aromatic whites to tannic reds. January 11 and 12 saw the following grapes picked for Icewine, in order for highest tonnage: Riesling (132), Merlot (77), Cabernet Franc (36), Pinot Gris (35), Chardonnay (35), Zweigelt (34), Viognier (33), Pinot Noir (25), Sauvignon Blanc (25), Ehrenfelser (8), Cabernet Sauvignon (4), Kerner (3.5), Oraniensteiner (1.5), Syrah (1), Lemburger (1), Pinot Blanc (1), Pinot Auxerrois (1), Semillon (0.5), and Muscat (0.5).
With the Icewine harvest begun, palates across BC can look forward to new Icewine releases in 2013.
Since 1990, the BCWI has played a pivotal role in taking BC’s wine industry from a vision to an internationally recognized niche region producing premium wines and providing quality wine tourism experiences.
Representing 133 member wineries throughout the province, the BCWI supports and markets the Wines of British Columbia (BC VQA), which gives consumers assurance they are buying a wine that is 100% from BC. The BCWI also markets the Wine Regions of British Columbia; delivers quality trade, media and consumer tastings; and acts as the voice of BC’s wine industry by advocating to government on behalf of its members. Find more at www.winebc.com.