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From the very beginning, ice wine is very different from ordinary wines. To start with, the grapes are picked when frozen. This process produces that very sweet taste that ice wine has as the mixture contains frozen water, acid and highly concentrated sugar.
The mind boggles when trying to ascertain just how all those grapes are frozen to the right temperature, the machinery involved would be immense. But, there lies the trick. The grapes are picked very early in the morning, just as the frost hits the grapes, effectively freezing them, so we have mother nature to thank for this miracle.
The frozen grapes are then gathered and crushed and the resulting juice and skins transferred to oak barrels for several months. No freezers involved.
The story of the origins of ice wine goes back to the late 1700’s in Germany. The story goes that the vineyard owner returned to his vineyard after the harvest to find that his entire crop was frozen. Not wanting to waste the grapes, he decided to process them anyway and see what happened. To his amazement a beautiful sweet wine was produced, which he named ice wine, and their production has continued to this day.
The climate of the vineyard is vitally important as you can imagine. Warm climates do not produce the necessary chill to freeze the grape just before harvesting. Mainly countries such as Germany, Canada or Austria produce the most ice wine. It is very tricky to get the temperature just right, reflected in the high cost of ice wine.
Because of the difficulty involved with producing ice wine, often referred to as desert wine, the price is very expensive and the wine is usually sold in half bottles.