Cold Temps Lead to Ice Wine Harvest

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GENEVA -- Most people wouldn't describe temperatures in the teens as a 'perfect day,' but it was exactly that for the makers of ice wine.

Workers from the local wineries were out before the break of day Thursday to hand harvest the grapes at the vineyards in Geneva.

"Mother Nature has told us that it's time to pick ice wine," said Cindy Lindberg, President of Grand Rivers Cellars Winery.

The temperature has to be below 17 degrees for the grapes to be really frozen and that makes it the right time for the fruit of vine to be turned into ice wine.

The grapes are dehydrated and all the sugar is concentrated.

"So, you're picking a sugar level twice what you would on a normal harvest and what that gives you is an ultra-sweet dessert wine with basically the same amount of alcohol," Winemaker and Chemist Ed Trebets said.

It's difficult to estimate how many tons of grapes are being collected in just this one day. No frost in the Spring or in the Fall was very good for the grapes and good for the harvest.

"It was a very plentiful harvest for us. The grapes themselves are very plump and very juicy, although frozen solid," Lindberg added.

The grapes must be picked and pressed in the frozen state in order to be true ice wine.

"You don't want them to warm up because then they are going to start losing that sugar that we strived for with this temperature," Trebets said.

The one day harvest of grapes is expected to make about six gallons of ice wine. It will be available at the local Ice Wine Festival in March.