Canadian Icewine harvest in danger

by Tony Aspler

A green Christmas and New Year in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia spells danger for Canada s Icewine producers. Temperatures are some 10 - 15 degrees higher than is normal for this time of year. Ski operators are having to manufacture snow and

and some golf courses are still open.

As Icewine requires sustained temperatures of 8 º Centigrade for the grapes to freeze, the prolonged mild weather has winemakers worried that there may be no 2006 Icewine vintage. The vintage year is determined by the entire crop which is picked in September and October. Canadian Icewine. Historically, Icewine is picked during the weeks leading up to Christmas, but sometimes the harvest takes place in the new year.

British Columbia enjoyed a cold spell in late November which allowed some wineries out west to harvest frozen grapes. One or two Ontario producers took advantage of cold snap in November as well, but much of the crop still hangs on the vine. Debi Pratt, a spokeswoman for Inniskillin Wines, says that the latest they have ever picked Icewine grapes was in early March in 2002. But by leaving the fruit that long growers risk losing the bunches to scavenging birds and the juice content is severely reduced by desiccation.

Should the freezing conditions not arrive, wineries will be forced to pick the grapes and declassify from Icewine to Special Select or Select Late Harvest, depending on the sugar content in the frozen grapes. Since Late Harvest wines are priced at less than half the price of Icewines, they will also take a financial hit.



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