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Ice wine is the last harvest of the season

TRI-COUNTY AREA—Not many wineries in the area make ice wine, and very few make it every year.
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards plans to make it; the winery is going to use Vidal Blanc grapes. Mike Sutterby, winemaker for Hazlitt, said the grapes aren’t ready yet, but it will be an earlier harvest than usual. Grapes for ice wine have to stay on the vines longer than for other varieties of wine.
Sutterby said for Hazlitt ice wine grapes are usually harvested in January. However, he added that a couple of years ago, Hazlitt harvested ice wine grapes in December.
“This is pretty early. It’s never this cold,” he said. “This will be a nice year for ice wine.”
Sutterby explained there have been no times when the weather was too hot during the cold months. The cold is needed to remove the water from the grapes. Sutterby said the grapes “mummify.” However, leaving the grapes on the vines this late means a much smaller yield as fewer grapes survive. Birds and deer also see ice wine grapes as a source of food.
“It’s a labor of love doing an ice wine,” said John Iszard, marketing director for Fulkerson Winery. “The yields are so small.”
Iszard explained Fulkerson did an ice wine in 2008 and is still selling that. He explained the main three grape choices for ice wine are Riesling, Vidal, and Cabernet Frank. Fulkerson’s last ice wine was Cabernet Franc.
“It’s one of the few things we have the upper hand of in New York,” said Iszard. He explained California wineries can’t make ice wine because of they lack the cold.
Art Hunt, owner of Hunt Country Vineyards, said this year was an ideal growing year. He explained “the flavors developed in the berries” during the sunny days and cold nights. Hunt Country Vineyards did not produce ice wine this year. Hunt said there was still some not sold from a previous year.
Wineries can also make “iced wine.” Iszard said Fulkerson harvested Vidal grapes to do just that, He said the winery was concerned the grapes wouldn’t stay on the vines long enough.
The grapes are frozen using equipment to make iced wine, as opposed to freezing outside on the vine. The process means more wine is produced, so when sold iced wine is mostly cheaper than ice wine.




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