VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

The recent cold snap may have been harsh for residents, but icewine makers in the Okanagan are celebrating the negative temperatures.

Grapes that are picked for icewine must be frozen before coming off the vines and once the ideal subzero temperature sets in, crews have mere hours to harvest the fruit.

Producing icewine is delicate and risky, and keeping the grapes from defrosting is one of the main concerns, according to Grizzli Winery’s sales coordinator Breanna Nathorst.

“It has to be -8 C minimum but we like to wait until about -10 C because you get more concentrated fruit flavours when you wait a little bit longer,” Nathorst said.

Once crews harvest the grapes, they’re kept outside in large bins. Then the fruit is pressed outdoors in movable presses which are moved to a location that has coldest temperatures.

Nathorst added one bottle of white icewine has approximately 30 to 35 pounds of grapes, and a bottle of red icewine has about 50 to 55 pounds.

“White icewines are more common and red icewines are a lot more rare, which is why they’re also more expensive,” she said.

“The reason for that is because you’re getting a lot more flavour in there, and they’re riskier to produce because we wait until it’s -14 C before we pick the grapes.”

In general, Nathorst said icewine is riskier and takes a bit longer to produce.

“For table wine, we harvest them in the fall. That’s when you see the vineyards full and beautiful and it’s usually in October that we harvest the grapes. It takes about 10 to 12 pounds of table grapes to make a 715 millilitre of wine.”

“With icewine, we’re monitoring the temperature, making sure it’s cold enough. And if the temperature goes warmer than the minimum -8 C, you could lose your crop. If they do thaw, that’d be a late harvest wine. It’d be a sweeter wine, but it’s not icewine.”

Andrea Sorestad leads tours at Grizzli Winery and she said once the juice is extracted from the grapes, it’s all moved into fermentation tanks.

“That’s when the yeast is added, and that process takes four to six weeks,” Sorestad said.

“It’s very long and slow, and that’s because the icewine is super concentrated with sugars and it’s hard to break down so it takes a while.”

She added that fermenting table wine only takes about ten to 12 days.

Grizzli Winery will be hosting its first annual icewine festival to celebrate wine and of course, icewine. The festival also coincides with the Lunar New Year.

There will be an outdoor fire, Chinese calligraphers and a chance to taste the winery’s award-winning icewines.

For more information and tickets, visit Grizzli Winery’s Eventbrite page.

READ MORE: First annual Grizzli Winery Icewine Festival to take place late January

READ MORE: Icewine harvesting underway in Okanagan


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

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

Just Posted

Oak Bay looks into boulevard gardens

Legalizing boulevard gardening among working group ideas

Migration drives Greater Victoria’s population growth

Region surpasses 400,000 population despite seeing more deaths than births

Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commission criticizes Central Saanich over committee demise

PAAC also calls on municipality to revive ag committee disbanded earlier

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

Most Read