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

RCMP report woman arrested after ramming police cruiser

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

Axe throwing, road hockey among Salmon Arm food drive festivities

Fill the Pantry event wraps up on Monday, Feb. 17 with day of activities

Salvation Army’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser in Salmon Arm welcomes you

Make community connections while taking a walk and contributing to $35,000 goal

Letter: South Shuswap incorporation a foregone conclusion?

Writer overwhelmed with information at committee meeting

Snapshot: Valentine’s donations to Shuswap organizations

Shuswap SPCA, SAFE Society receive some love from SASCU Insurance

Kelowna’s Family YMCA opens doors on Family Day

The entire day was free for the community

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

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

South Okanagan woman reflects on prestigious win at Westminster dog show

“Polly” the Scottish deerhound was crowned best in breed and reserve best hound.

Wild weekend results in pair of losses for Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Away games ahead before Feb. 23 contest versus Cents at Shaw Centre

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

Sicamous Eagles’ playoff hopes dashed by Storm

Kamloops team wins 7-4 in Feb. 14 contest

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Most Read