Ice Wine: The Coolest Wine You Never Knew
Originating in Germany by accident over 200 years ago, ice wine is not a new product. While ice wine is still made in Germany, and now Austria, the United States and now some parts of Northern China, Canada is the only wine-producing region in the world with a climate so cold that its vintners can guarantee an annual production, making it the largest producer of this exceptional wine globally. However it is still relatively unknown to the general wine drinking world due to the lack of ice wine exported, with most Canadian exports going to China.
The risk in production is caused by having to leave grapes on the vine and at the mercy of mother nature – frost may not come before the grapes rot, it may arrive too severe, or it may arrive too late and the crop will be scavenged by wildlife. It also requires the availability of a large enough labour force to handpick the entire crop within a few hours, often in the middle of the night at a moment’s notice. Once picked winemakers work tirelessly in unheated spaces to ensure the grapes stay frozen before they are crushed.
The frozen liquid concentrates the juice providing just one drop of liquid per frozen grape, compared to table wine which produces ten drops. This concentration develops 'super juice' which is then aged before being bottled.
Much like a true rebel, it is not for the faint-hearted.
With yields so low and financial risk so high, most of the Canadian ice wine produced is sold locally with the world missing out on what many regard as the best wine in the world.