Updated 01/03/2013 12:10 PM
Perfect Conditions For Ice Wine Harvest
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Some wineries across the state have been waiting for these frigid temperatures. Right now it is the right condition to harvest grapes to make the dessert wine known as ice wine.
Ice wine production is considered risky because the New York State law for ice wine specifics that the grapes must be naturally frozen on the vine. At Casa Larga Vineyards in Fairport they began picking grapes at midnight. They picked an acre of riesling, gewurztraminer and vidal blanc grapes.
"We try to harvest usually before the sun comes up because it maintains the coldness. We usually have a crew out here, I think we had about ten people out here picking, and they just go up one row and down the other wearing gloves and hand warmers to keep their fingers agile to be able to take the grapes off the vine," said Andrea Colaruotolo O'Neill from Casa Larga.
"This is our 16th year making it. We love ice wine. For us it's exciting when it gets cold. So I know everybody else is going 'oh it's snowing and cold,' but we're very excited when that happens because it gives us an opportunity to have a second harvest in the winter."
After picking the frozen grapes, they go into a hydraulic press and then are moved to tanks where they will ferment for two to three months. It will be another two to three years before this ice wine harvest is bottled for sale.
Casa Larga will welcome the community on Feb. 16 to celebrate the New York Ice Wine Festival from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.
Casa Larga Vineyards ice wine has won 150 awards, making it the most award-winning ice wine in the United States.