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vest bodes w
Mid-December temperature drop means
better-quality grapes, and more of them.
By Judie Steeves
this year—because of
or those grape growers who
the very low
leave some of their harvest to
temperatures—that it
was difficult to press
making icewine, this was a pretty good
freeze naturally on the vine for
the juice out.
The resulting
temperatures to -8 C occurred before
The required plunge in
nectar, with the frozen
winter even officially began, in mid-
water left behind,
December, six weeks earlier than last
makes a wine the
consistency of honey,
but with complex
better quality fruit and far more fruit
The earlier icewine harvest means
flavours contributed by
can be harvested to be crushed,
the concentrated fruit
Grapes are destined for crusher after harvesting
because not nearly so much of it has
under excellent conditions at Quails’ Gate winery
been lost to birds and wildlife,
in West Kelowna.
dropping or dessication.
price in the marketplace,
It fetches a premium
with 375 ml bottles typically selling for
during the fall harvest for icewine.
While in a good year, weather-wise,
year also meant the harvest could be
The particularly cold weather this
$30 to $120. It’s a popular treat as a
money can be made making icewine,
completed during daylight hours,
dessert wine around the world.
in a warm winter year, the crop losses
resulting in less missed or dropped
fruit during harvest, and in much
because no one can accurately predict
Making icewine is a risky business,
from the gamble can be hard to take.
more pleasant conditions for everyone
how Mother Nature will behave. Some
involved. Some years, headlamps have
years, there still hasn’t been cold
Wine Institute estimates 405 tons of
This year, Lisa Cameron of the B.C.
to be worn by pickers and big lamps
enough weather by February and at
grapes were picked.
arranged in work areas so the frozen
that point, most wineries use the
berries can be harvested before it
remaining grapes to make a late
120,000 litres of icewine. If it is all
She says that could produce
warns up at daybreak.
harvest dessert wine instead.
bottled and sold at an average of $50
However, it sells at much lower prices.
per 375 ml bottle, it could result in $2
million in sales, and that’s not
opportunity for picking and it was
“There was a good window of
clean, sound fruit,” commented Mike
growers and wineries have reduced
With that in mind, many grape
counting the visits to wineries and the
Molloy, manager of vineyard
the quantity of acreage set aside
higher profile the export sales produce
for the industry.
operations for Mission Hill Family
Riesling Icewine was judged the best
Mission Hill’s 2006 Reserve
icewine in the world at the
International Wine Challenge
competition in the U.K. this fall. It’s
the world’s largest wine competition.
growers and winemakers had ample
Throughout the Okanagan, grape
Since 1970
opportunity to pluck the marble-like
berries from the vines and make a
leisurely trip to the crusher, without
6969 Shirley Avenue, Burnaby, BC, Canada, V5J 4R4
having to worry about them thawing
Toll Free: 888-77T-BIRD (888-778-2473) a71 Fax: 604-433-6231
too soon.
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complained the fruit was so rock-hard
In fact, some winemakers
We Also Recycle Plastics
British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2009
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