Icewine: Intensely sweet and indulgent

This sweet dessert wine, traditionally made with white grapes, is now also made with red varieties, each with its own unique character. The grapes stay on the vine through autumn and dry into raisins. As winter arrives, the freeze-thaw cycle further dehydrates them, intensifying the sugar, acids and other components. The flavour of the juice is highly concentrated, making a complex wine with deep, rich nuances. Canada has made icewine into an international star. We’ve trademarked the term, and our Vintners Quality Alliance has created the most stringent regulations in the world for its production: it must be naturally produced (no artificial freezing); it must have a minimum Brix (sugar content) of 35 degrees; the alcohol must come from the grapes’ natural sugars; and the harvest must not start before Nov. 15. Why the exorbitant price tag and small bottle? When pressed, the frozen grapes produce miniscule amounts of juice. The yield is less than one-quarter of what would be produced by unfrozen grapes. 10 things you should know about icewine: 1. Icewine was discovered accidently in Franconia, Germany, in 1794. Vintners pressed frozen grapes they’d left on the vines for winter animal fodder and found that the resulting wine had a very high level of sugar. Late-harvest sweet wines were already prized in Germany, so by the 1800s, Eiswein was being made intentionally in the Rheingau region. 2. Icewine is made in Canada, Germany, Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Israel and California. Those made using freezers are often called “icebox wines.” 3. The first Canadian commercial icewine was made in 1978 by Hainle Vineyards in British Columbia. Ontario followed...

A record year for BC Icewine

By John Schreiner Here’s hoping that consumers still have a taste for something sweet: British Columbia’s winemakers are likely to produce about 300,000 litres of Icewine. This is double from the 2012 production. Some 29 producers have registered to turn 1,000 tons of grapes into Icewine this year. The harvest began November 20-21, the third earliest Icewine harvest in British Columbia. The earliest harvests were November 3, 2003 and November 19, 2011. One winery, Little Straw Vineyards in West Kelowna, was able to pick some grapes early on the morning of November 20, stopping when the temperature rose during the day, and finishing that night. Several consecutive days of frigid weather in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys have given producers a generous window for the harvest. For the whole article, visit...