Icewine is thicker and sweeter than regular table wine, and takes longer to produce. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

Icewine is thicker and sweeter than regular table wine, and takes longer to produce. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

Mild winter brings small icewine harvest for Central Okanagan vintners

It must be -8 C or lower before grapes can be harvested for icewine

The mild winter may have felt good to some, but it has left some wineries a bit short when it comes to harvesting the grapes for icewine.

Grizzli Winery sales and events coordinator Breanna Nathorst said typically, harvesting the grapes intended for icewine starts in December and goes on until January when temperatures dip -8 C or lower.

But this winter, it has yet to get that cold.

As a result, the harvest has been delayed. On one hand, this is good news because it means the grapes will be riper and therefore, sweeter. But Nathorst said leaving the grapes on the vines longer also has its drawbacks.

“What happens is the grapes are going to have less and less juice content,” she said.

“The issue now is that you’re losing your juice content, the grapes are shrivelling up and then all the animals start to come and nibble at them because the grapes are ripe.”

She said the less juice content there is, the more grapes will be needed to make one bottle of icewine, which means they’ll be producing fewer bottles of the 2020 harvest.

She said they’re hoping temperatures dip low enough throughout the weekend of Jan. 23 so they can finally pick the grapes but if they don’t, Nathorst said they’ll hold on and wait to pick them in February.

“Even if it goes later in January, even later in February, we still can do an icewine harvest.”

Nathorst said as a result of the mild winter, 2020 icewines will be rare.

If you are a collector, perhaps this is the vintage to get your hands on.

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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