Everyone loves a warm winter full of sun and blue skies, right? Actually, the livelihoods of some depend on the freezing temperatures that would drive most others back inside. Take ice wine producers, for example. According to recent reports, this year’s mild winter weather has been causing major problems for those who have dedicated their careers to the unique libation.
"What's ironic about the ice wine harvest is it's one of the few times when people actually say, 'Great, it's going to be bitter cold,'" New York Wine and Grape Foundation president Jim Trezise told the Associated Press. Ice wine derives its sugary sweetness from pressing frozen grapes, their sugars and juices crystallized and concentrated within them. In fact, to be sold under the “ice wine” label, a wine must be made with grapes that were frozen on the vine. Where other crop producers dread an oncoming frost, ice wine vintners count on it.
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But this year the AP reports an unseasonably mild winter in the regions where ice wine grapes traditionally grow, leading many growers to take risks by leaving their grapes on the vine long after the usual October/November harvest date. This decision carries its own dangers – the grapes may develop past their prime, shrivel and rot, rendering them useless for winemaking. Edward O'Keefe III, president of wine producer Chateau Grand Traverse, also told the AP that delaying the harvest puts stress on the grapevines that could throw production off kilter in the following year.
Because harvesting the grapes before they’ve frozen at all constitutes to a total loss, it’s a risk that ice wine producers have no choice but to take. Fortunately, some were able to capitalize on a cold front last week that chilled some grapes to perfect picking temperature – even then, many vineyards reported collecting only about half of a normal harvest. But still it’s something, and with any luck next year’s harvest will make up for this year’s loss.
[VIA: CBS News]