November 27, 2015 - 9:00 PM
KELOWNA – Fans of the syrupy and sweet ice wine from Summerhill Pyramid Winery were out all night this week, helping bring in the harvest.
Vineyard manager Willem Semmelink says almost 30 volunteers bundled up and hit the vines Wednesday and Thursday nights as the temperature fell far enough to make picking and transporting the delicate frozen berries possible.
Ice wine grapes are harvested as soon as it’s cold enough. That usually means between -7 and -10 Celsius.
Last year was the third earliest the Mission winery could pick, this year was a little close to the norm.
In 2014 they weren’t able to start until Nov. 14, the year before Nov. 21. In 2009 they had to wait until mid-January, which means more time for birds and the environment to lower quality.
“Catching them early makes a huge difference,” Semmelink says.
The majority of the pickers every year are volunteers who consider ice wine harvesting something of a bucket list item. Most are wine drinkers who also have a taste for adventure.
“Everyone quite enjoys it I think,” Semmelink says. “Most people are first timers but the amazing thing is that most came back for the second night. They really enjoyed it.”
Volunteers picked 20 half-ton bins Wednesday night and 17 bins Thursday. They usually start sometime before midnight and work until the early morning.
While the temperature was cold enough to make for a successful harvest, the picking conditions were ideal the last two nights.
“It wasn’t too icy so that made it pleasant for the pickers and it was a beautiful full moon so it was extra special.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015