Icewine at Vineum.com
Riesling-, Silvaner- and Gewürztraminer Icewine
Icewine is produced from frozen grapes. They stay on the vines until (ideally) temperature drops to minus 7 degree celcius - or colder. This sounds quite easy. You have to do nothing but to wait and harvest the grapes when they are frozen. Unfortunately, due to the climate change, German winters within the last decades became warmer and warmer. Resulting in the fact that nowadays the probability to produce icewine is becoming less and less likely. Currently there is (on average) icewine produced every third year, the remaining years are a gamble which the producers loose, resulting in the complete loss of their grapes.
The ideal time for the icewine harvest is as early as possible in the year (with respect to winter), i.e. beginning of December to mid January. Within this few weeks, the chances to harvest healthy grapes are highest. Producers do NOT want noble rot (Botrytis) on their icewine grapes, they have to check the grapes frequently to cut of individual grapes as soon as they show signs of noble rot. And this is the big difference to other dessert wines like Beerenauslose or Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA). The icewine is supposed to have a fresh flavor with well balanced acidity. Exactly this combination of fruit flavors, sweetness and perfect acidity makes the German icewine so special.
Once the temperaturs drop to minus 7 degree or colder, the producers have to harvest the frozen grapes immediately, before the temperatures rise again. That´s why icewine harvest in Germany takes place in the very early hours before sunrise. The frozen grapes are harvested by hand, brought back to the winery and pressed immediately. The water from inside the grapes crystalizes at the extremely cold temperatures, but the natural fruit sugar and all the flavors stay liquid - this makes the icewine so special.