Pickers scour ice wine fields thanks to cold snap

Ice wine harvest season was an early one this year thanks to an Okanagan cold snap. Pickers at 1775 Bench winery spent Wednesday and Thursday night clipping frozen grapes into buckets while taking a few to munch on as well.

PENTICTON - Ice wine picking was almost a communal experience at 1775 Bench winery Thursday night. Seen from afar the pickers looked like blue glowing stars thanks to their headlamps.

There were laughs, brief conversations and cheers about how there was no snow on the ground to drag one's feet through.

General manager and co-owner Val Tait said this year's harvest came real early. In 2012 the pickers had to wait until January but this time around they started on Wednesday.

Dozens of pickers scoured the fields at 1775 Bench like beneficial locusts. Grape bunches were cut and placed into buckets before being dumped into a tractor's bin. The tractor had to make more runs to dump its loads as there were more grapes available to pick than last year.

Staff also munched on what they picked but their nibbles were a combination of flavour-testing the grapes and satisfying a sweet tooth.

To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at squesnel@infotelnews.ca, call 250-488-3065, send tweets to @shannonquesnel1 or @InfoNewsPentict.

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