Leave the grapes on the vine they say...let them freeze for a while they say...they'll make delicious wine they say.
How right they are!
It's Ice Wine season around these parts and we couldn't wait to get our hands on those delicious frozen berries. Ice Wine is something we've been producing here for a while given our uniquely frigid climate. Our Vermont grown Ice Wine is made primarily from Vidal Blanc grapes, field blended with a small amount of Arctic Riesling. Although, I'll let you in on a little secret, we will be harvesting some Marquette grapes to use for a separate Ice Wine this year!
We sent out a crew of staff and community members at the break of dawn on a frigid 12 ̊ Fahrenheit morning for harvest. The stems on the grapes are so brittle when frozen that the crew used an interesting technique of shaking the vines to release the grapes. Once the grapes fell into the netting, it was opened, and the grapes dropped to fill the bins below. Ice wine harvest is quick work as we want to make sure the grapes don't warm up too much in the process!
What's so special about these grapes anyway, besides the fact that they are frozen? Well, due to the extended period of ripening, the frozen grapes harvested for Ice Wine have a much higher sugar content making them perfect for dessert wine! This sugar content is measured in units called Brix. This year the juice we harvested immediately from the frozen grapes held about 42 brix, we expect that the finished product will contain a residual sugar content between 20-23 brix. In case you don't know, that's some sweet wine considering our other, more typical wine only has 1-3% residual sugar! Not only does the sweetness make it special, but the sheer amount of grapes it takes to produce juice from frozen grapes is about 20% more than normal grape harvest. Out of the 1.6 tons of Ice Wine grapes harvested this year, we were able to yield only 184 gallons of juice.
According to our head winemaker Ethan, it's looking like a good year for Ice Wine! He says a great ripening season, which isn't always achieved, allowed for an excellent development of flavor and aroma that will surely shine through in each bottle.
Authored By: Beth Abbott