November 13, 2014 - 2:30 PM
SOUTH OKANGAN - Wineries throughout the South Okanagan have begun harvesting ice wine grapes after record-low temperatures sweep the valley.
Nk’Mip Cellars Winery in Osoyoos has almost completed its harvesting, which has never happened so early in the year, says Moss Scheurkogel, winery supervisor.
“It was completely unforeseen,” he says of the cold weather.
A team of seven was out in the vineyard between 1 to 2 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, picking as many grapes as they could while the temperature hovered around -15 degrees Celsius. Ice wine grapes must be picked and pressed while they are -8 degrees or colder, or else they cannot be labelled as ice wine, according to B.C. liquor laws. It can take up to 18 hours to press the grapes, since they are so hard and frozen, Scheurkogel says, whereas regular grapes can be pressed in a few hours.
Last season was the earliest they ever harvested ice wine grapes, and that was during the last week of November, he says. Typically, they are looking at December and straight into January for harvesting, he says.
The early harvest time is good for winemakers because they don’t have to take such a long break between the regular harvest for table wine, and the ice wine harvest, Scheurkogel says.
Last year Nk’Mip produced 742 cases (six 375 ml bottles) of Riesling ice wine, and will yield over 1,000 cases this year—just shy of double production.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014