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

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

Non-venomous ball python missing in Vic West

Snake was reported missing to Victoria police Tuesday morning

Crews respond to medical incident on West Saanich Road

Incident appears to be cleared, witnesses say

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

Most Read