It has been an exciting start to the new year at Black Star Farms. We are thrilled to announce that we kicked off 2022 with our first ice wine harvest since 2013! Historically, the first ice wine was made in Germany in the late 1700s when freezing weather struck before the grapes could be harvested. The resulting wine had an amazingly high sugar content and intense deep flavor. Thus, the technique became popular in Germany. By the mid-1800s, the Rheingau region was regularly making eiswein. German immigrants to Canada carried on the tradition in their new country, with ice wine being made in British Columbia and Ontario beginning in the 1970s. Learn more about how this truly decadent dessert wine is made below.
To make ice wine, the grapes must freeze on the vines and then be harvested and pressed while still frozen. Grapes freeze at around 20°F. They must remain at this temperature (or below) for at least 24-48 hours before being picked. In hopes that Mother Nature would cooperate this winter, we left six rows of Riesling on the vine in the Montaña Rusa Vineyard on Old Mission Peninsula and crossed our fingers for the perfect conditions.
We were fortunate enough to have a cold snap the first week of January with temperatures ranging from 9°-14°. It takes a certain dedication and passion to brave these extreme conditions, but our winery team was up for the task and began hand harvesting in the early hours of January 6th. The grapes must then be quickly brought to the winery and pressed whole-cluster by way of a traditional basket press.
The pressed juice is thick like maple syrup and almost as sweet. It is twice as sweet as the juice used to make table wine. Once the juice is extracted, it needs to be warmed before adding yeast. Fermentation is typically very long and slow and often extends well into springtime. This ice wine harvest resulted in a mere 120 gallons of juice that will make approximately 100 cases of wine.
The 2021 A Capella Ice Wine will most likely not hit the shelves until the end of this year. But we promise great things will come to those that wait! If you are interested in trying this style of wine now, check out our 2017 Arcturos Winter Harvest Riesling. Crafted in the spirit of ice wine, it has an intense fruit character, a rich mouthfeel, and a decadent lingering finish.