Ontario Icewine Harvest (January 6, 2004)
The 2003 Icewine harvest got underway in Ontario's three wine regions
on January 6. The cold spell, with temperatures dipping to 15°
Celsius, provided ideal conditions to bring in the crop. Under VQA regulations,
harvesting for Icewine cannot begin until the temperature drops to a minimum
8° Celsius to ensure the grape berries freeze solid and remain
so during pressing.
Ontario is the world's largest producer of Icewine and the only wine-producing
region that can make this "gift of winter" consistently every
year, since we are blessed with predictable polar temperatures at some
stage during the winter months.
Sixty Ontario wineries currently produce Icewine. Last year, Ontario
wineries processed 629,000 litres of Icewine juice from 4,089 tonnes of
grapes. The majority of Ontario Icewines are made from Riesling or the
thick-skinned hybrid Vidal, although some producers use Gewürztraminer,
Pinot Blanc or even the red Cabernet Franc. Two companies, Magnotta and
Inniskillin, produce a sparkling Icewine.
In order to be labeled as Ontario Icewine, the pressed juice must achieve
a minimum Brix level of 35°; otherwise it is declassified as Special
Select or Select Late Harvest.