Across the newsdesk this morning:
Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Canada's organic and biodynamic winery, started its harvest of Icewine at their estate Summerhill vineyard last night. Following an already excellent table wine harvest, the ideal weather situation occurred that allowed the team to harvest Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zweigelt from the winery's estate vineyard.
Vineyard manager Willem Semmelink suggested, "After a challenging growing season that saw heavy rain in June, followed by damaging hail in some parts of the Okanagan Valley, the weather ultimately delivered a long, warm Autumn that produced wonderful grapes. We are pleased that the arctic express has arrived so early, allowing us to capture this amazing fruit so early in the season and avoid damage to nature's gift."
Pickers bundled up to pick frozen grapes at Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Frozen grapes are poured into a bin at SummerhIll Pyramid Winery
Icewines are generally more expensive than most table wines for several reasons. Labour costs are higher than normal as a large group of grape pickers must be assembled with sometimes little notice, who are able to pick the entire crop within a few hours before the grapes begin to thaw, often in the middle of the night. The potential for damage to grapes left on the vine also increases due to weather, predators, rot and disease. Conditions in the cellar are also more challenging as the grapes must be pressed while still frozen and special equipment may be used. Fermentation also takes months instead of weeks and unique varieties of yeasts must be used in the process.
Since many of the world's wine growing regions will not experience such extreme temperatures, Canada and Germany produce most of the world's Icewine, usually sold in 375 or 200ml bottles.