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

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

PLACE NAMES: No, Kootenay doesn’t mean ‘water people’

Ethnographers have expended much effort seeing the roots of Kootenay and/or Ktunaxa

Small donation for a big cause: Castlegar Hospice Society

A small donation was made to the Castlegar Hospice Society

Castlegar musician holding benefit launch party

Steve Marc is releasing his album Feb 21

Supreme Court of Canada will hear Sinixt appeal May 12

B.C. has appealed Indigenous hunting case through several levels of court starting in Nelson in 2016

Rail disruptions expected to continue after new protest sites emerge

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Groundhogs got it wrong: spring isn’t coming soon, Weather Network says

The only part of B.C. to warm up early will be Victoria

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Pink Shirt Day campaign urges Canadians to ‘Lift Each Other Up’

Annual anti-bullying effort returns Wednesday, Feb. 26

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

Most Read