No ice wine for you: Warm winter nixes special German wine

FRANKFURT — A warm winter means that, for apparently the first time in the history of German winemaking, the country’s fabled vineyards will produce no ice wine — a pricey, golden nectar made from grapes that have been left to freeze on the vine.

The German Wine Institute said Sunday that none of the country’s wine regions saw the necessary low temperature of minus 7 degrees Celsius, or 19 degrees Fahrenheit.

A succession of warm winters have cut into ice wine production recently, the institute said, noting that in 2017 only seven producers managed to make it, and only five managed it in 2013.

“If warm winters become more frequent over the coming years, ice wines from Germany’s regions will soon become an even more expensive rarity than they already are,” said wine institute spokesman Ernst Buescher.

Buescher said the institute knew of no vintage year in this century or last when no ice wine was made, and since winters were colder in the 19th century, it assumed that the latest harvest was the first one to create no ice wine since production began in 1830.

Freezing the grapes before they are crushed concentrates the sugar and leads to an intensely sweet, golden wine often served with dessert. It has always been an niche product with around 0.1% of German production, and expensive due to low volumes.

Making it is a tricky business that can enhance the winemaker’s reputation. Workers must race into the vineyards to bring the grapes in with only a few hours notice when the temperature falls, often at night or in the early morning. Since the grapes must be pressed while still frozen, makers labour in unheated facilities. Vineyard owners also face the risk that grapes set aside for ice wine will rot on the vine before the hard freeze comes.

Canada’s Niagara Peninsula is one of several other places where ice wine is produced, thanks to its cold winters. It’s also made in northern Michigan and Ashtabula County, Ohio, near Lake Erie.

Major markets for German ice wine include Japan and China as well as Scandinavia and the U.S., the institute said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta confirms 28 new COVID-19 cases, 3 more deaths

There are 28 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, bringing the… Continue reading

Still scarred, Notre Dame lives anew in coronavirus crisis

PARIS — Still damaged and scarred by fire, Notre Dame Cathedral came… Continue reading

Some Montreal health-care workers say shops, banks turning them away over COVID-19

MONTREAL — Premier Francois Legault hails Quebec health-care workers as “guardian angels,”… Continue reading

Community garden plots are allowed to grow again

A modified community garden plot program will run in Red Deer this… Continue reading

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

Red Deer businesses still serving

BY PAUL COWLEY ADVOCATE STAFF… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

‘Saturday Night Live’ to air show, observe social distancing

LOS ANGELES — “Saturday Night Live” will be back on the air… Continue reading

Tokyo Olympic CEO hints games could be in doubt even in 2021

TOKYO — As the coronavirus spreads in Japan, the chief executive of… Continue reading

Alberta announces extra $1B to create jobs repairing roads, bridges, schools

Alberta announces extra $1B to create jobs repairing roads, bridges, schools

Alberta doctors file lawsuit against province over changes to billing

Alberta doctors file lawsuit against province over changes to billing

Leafs’ Matthews hoping to take care of ‘unfinished business’ if season resumes

Leafs’ Matthews hoping to take care of ‘unfinished business’ if season resumes

Most Read