Ice Wine Harvest
November 12, 2017
Yesterday morning, we called up our hardy and loyal crew, roped in extra family, and started picking grapes before sunrise. We landed right in the mercurial sweet spot: between 16 and 18 degrees F, when the grapes left to freeze on the vine are slushy but not solid.
We picked Frontenac Gris (which we always reserve for ice wine), Frontenac Blanc for the first time, and our teeny tiny row of Swenson White. The Gris are the dark clusters you see below. The shriveled berries are not beautiful, but they do make delicious wine. The Blanc is pictured above, and the Swenson White are the smooth round globes. They were the texture and flavor of a smooth orange-vanilla sherbet.
After the finger-freezing work was done, Chris pressed all the grapes while they were still semi-frozen. The water ice crystals– frozen independently in each grape– stayed in the press with the skins and seeds. The resulting juice was about 36% sugar with concentrated flavor. (We harvest the grapes for table wines at 18-25% sugar.)
Next, we’ll ferment the juice, but only till some of the sugars are converted to alcohol. We’ll stop the yeast while sugars remain, and we’ll have a richly sweet dessert wine. We’ll use these grapes to make our Firelight. You’ll see the 2017 vintage next year!
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