It's Time for Icewine

A glass of red Icewine and white Icewine in a snowy vineyard with ice around the rim of each glass

Despite enjoying a mostly mild winter, there have been a few days when frost has blanketed our windows, frigid temperatures have forced us to bundle up like that kid in A Christmas Story, and howling winds have caused serious debate on whether going outside to get the mail can be put off for another day – or month.

To us that means one thing: it’s Icewine season.

About 60 wineries across Ontario – in Prince Edward County, Niagara, Lake Erie North Shore & Pelee Island -- produce Icewine. 

To celebrate the annual harvest, wineries across Niagara throw a month-long party that will see 27 wineries throwing open their doors to teach the public all there is to know about the wine that landed Canada on the serious wine map more than 40 years ago. 

It’s no wonder there’s such hoopla surrounding the harvest.  Making Icewine is not for the faint of heart: everything from bad weather, to pests and animals, to disease & rot can ruin a winery’s crop (and income). Not to mention it’s an expensive and laborious undertaking.

Once it’s cold enough (as in, –12°C cold enough), winemakers are out, often in the dead of night to pick the frozen crop largely by hand.  By this time, the grapes are so withered, one entire vine will only produce enough juice for one glass of Icewine.  For regular table wine, a vine can produce about a bottle. Needless to say, to make Icewine, it helps to be a bit of a risk taker to endeavour in such a business.

Thankfully, many do – and their efforts have made Canada a world leader in Icewine production. It’s become so wildly popular that connoisseur's are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a bottle, though it is possible to find a good selection for as low as $40 a bottle in Ontario. 

Good Icewines are rich & luscious in flavour with pineapple, peach lychee, apricot, ginger and spice with racy acidity to keep them from being too cloying.  They’re delicious on their own, but lovely when paired with blue cheese, foie gras, roasted nuts and custard style desserts.

My sister, Courtney (L) and me at the Icewine festival in 2012

If you’re still wondering what the big deal is, here’s a few cold, hard facts:

This blog was first published on thewinesisters.com in 2012 and has been updated for clarity. 

 

 

 

Hear From Real People!

The Wine Sisters put on magnificent event in Unionville..... They did a superb job, both as Sommeliers and on the PR and overall event co-ordination ... Great job and we look forward to working with you on our event!
I had the pleasure of attending the Oceania Cruise event where you conducted a wine pairing. I have to say that your wine and food pairing made a typically ho hum travel information night, spectacular! I have never done a wine pairing. I was amazed at how food interacted with the wines.
The unique programs and the tour we did with you was a huge success. Guests really enjoyed the afternoon!
Erin did a fantastic job with our group. We all really enjoyed the day. I have already recommended The Wine Sisters for my company events, as it was such a great experience for us.
You and your team were an absolute pleasure to work with! From the get go, you were very flexible with our needs, communicated in a timely manner, and tailored your services to be exactly what we asked for.
Great energy, sense of humour and very knowledgeable! Thank you for making it an afternoon to remember!
Our guests had a great evening and Erin made sure that everyone (even non-drinkers) enjoyed themselves! Thanks for making the bridal shower so memorable!
Bravo! You were awesome and I loved the presentation, explanation and selection of wines! I just had to reach out and thank you for a wonderful evening. You two are fabulous – great energy and you really like what you do.  You make tasting wine fun!
Thank you very, very, very much for the outstanding planning and support you gave in making this event an absolute success. People were just having a fantastic time and the set-up and style were absolutely brilliant. I think we got what we exactly wanted. I will reach out again!
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