Archive for the Wine Production: Various types Category

Colors and Shapes of bottles

Posted in Wine and Design, Wine Production: Various types with tags , , , on May 27, 2010 by jponzi

Wine producers in Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany follow the tradition of their local areas in choosing the shape of bottle most appropriate for their wine.

Port Wine

  • Port, sherry, and Bordeaux varieties: straight-sided and high-shouldered with a pronounced punt. Port and sherry bottles may have a bulbous neck to collect any residue.
  • Burgundies and Rhône varieties: tall bottles with sloping shoulders and a smaller punt.
  • Rhine (also known as hock or hoch), Mosel, and Alsace varieties: narrow and tall with little or no punt.
  • Champagne and other sparkling wines: thick-walled and wide with a pronounced punt and sloping shoulders.
  • German wines from Franconia: the Bocksbeutel bottle.
  • The Chianti and some other Italian wines: the fiasco, a round-bottomed flask encased in a straw basket.

Burgundy Wine

Alsace Wine

Champagne

Bocksbeutel Wine

Chianti

Many North and South American, South African, and Australasian wine producers select the bottle shape they wish to associate their wines with. For instance, a producer who believes their wine is similar to Bordeaux may choose to bottle his wine in Bordeaux-style bottles.

The home wine maker may use any bottle, as the shape of the bottle does not affect the taste of the finished product. The sole exception is in producing sparkling wine where thicker-walled bottles should be used to handle the excess pressure.

The traditional colours used for wine bottles are:

  • Bordeaux: dark green for reds, light green for dry whites, clear for sweet whites.
  • Burgundy and the Rhone: dark green.
  • Mosel and Alsace: dark to medium green, although some producers have traditionally used amber.
  • Rhine: amber, although some producers have traditionally used green.
  • Champagne: Usually dark to medium green. Rosé champagnes are usually a colorless or green.

Clear bottles have recently become popular with white wine producers in many countries, including Greece, Canada and New Zealand. Most red wine worldwide is still bottled in green glass.

How wine is changing the world: Wine Cooperatives

Posted in Wine Production: Various types with tags , , , on April 27, 2010 by jponzi

The Fairtrade Foundation teamed up with the wine Co-operative in Los Robles in Chile to help promote and sustain their wine market.

The Fairtrade Foundation is a development organisation committed to tackling poverty and injustice through trade, and the UK member of Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO). The Foundation works with businesses, civil society organisations and individuals to improve the position of producer organisations in the South and to help them achieve sustainable improvements for their members and their communities.

Certification and product labelling (through the FAIRTRADE Mark) are the primary tools for our development goals. The backing of organisations of producers and consumers in a citizen’s movement for change is fundamental and integral to our work.

With Fairtrade wines tells a story; about struggling communities revived and renewed, about schools built, clean water supplied and hope restored. So when you’re sipping the velvety Argentine Malbec or Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, or celebrating with the Cape Sparkling Brut, you can be sure it means a fairer price is paid to the producer and you’re not paying over the odds yourself.

In argentina Fairtrade has also teamed up with La Riojana the largest co-operative in Argentina. As well as receiving the Fairtrade premium for their grapes, wine producers in La Riojana benefit from an additional premium paid by The Co-operative social projects.

The first year’s funds were used to install a new water facility for 381 in habitants of Tilimuqui, as small village near Chilecito. Previously water was delivered once a week in a truck, but now every home has access to clean drinking water on a daily basis. Now Fairtrade is starting a project to fund a new secondary school for children aged between 13 and 18 years old living in the Chilecito region.

Orange you a misfit: Using the old technology with the new (Italy vs. America)

Posted in History and Origin, Wine Production: Various types on March 22, 2010 by jponzi

So consider orange wine a sort of inverse of pink wine. Orange wine is wine made from white wine grape varieties that have spent some maceration time in contact with the grape skins. Typically white wine production involves crushing the grapes and quickly moving the juice off the skins into the fermentation vessel. The skins contain color pigment, phenols and tannins that are often considered undesirable for white wines while for red wines, skin contact and maceration is a vital part of the wine making process that gives red wines its color, flavor and texture. Orange wines get their name from the darker, slightly orange tinge that the white wines receive due to their contact with the coloring pigments of the grape skins

In a tradition that dates back nearly 5,000 years, grapes are placed in large clay amphorae, buried in the ground, sealed and left to ferment in the cool earth, skins and all. In 2000, Gravner, a friulian wine genius, visited Georgia and obtained a Georgian vessel.

In a world where “traditional” or “natural” winemaking has now become a self imposed designation of the most extreme proponents of biodynamic and non-interventionalist winemaking, Josko Gravner puts them all to shame. These people proclaim how in sync they are with the “traditional” methods of winemaking, but they’re still using what Gravner would call modern technology: wooden barrels. The iconoclastic Gravner eschews wines in wood, in favor of the original stuff: wines aged in huge clay amphorae sealed with beeswax and buried in the ground.

Gravner, a small winery near Oslavia in Northern Italy’s Fruili Venezia Giulia region. It is run by the occasionally enigmatic and always driven Josko Gravner, who has been making wines in the same spot for more than thirty years.

While Gravner may have stuck to his beloved Fruili region for this long, he has not been making wine the same way for all that time. Indeed, at one time he was a celebrated “modernist” who brought new French Oak barrels into a region whose white wines were always made in steel. But in what can only be described as an inspired drive to explore all the possibilities for making the best wines he possibly could, he eventually started using a combination of old oak barrels and terra cotta amphorae, a winemaking vessel that was believed to be pioneered by the Georgians between four and five thousand years prior.

The Gravner estate sits on about 45 acres of land straddling the Italy Slovenia border, and grows Ribolla, Riesling Italico, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Pignolo, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Ribolla and Pignolo stand out of that list as varietals that most Americans, indeed, most people in general have never heard of. Ribolla Gialla, as this green skinned white varietal is also known, is grown only in this region of Italy  and is mentioned in municipal documents from the area dating back to before the 13th century. Pignolo is also a native variety to the region, which was cultivated by the local monasteries in the region starting in the 17th century.

Since the 2001 vintage, Gravner has decided to make his wines exclusively in amphorae, leaving oak behind, just as he left industrial yeasts, sulfur, and even temperature controlled fermentation behind years before. Of all the winemakers I have ever heard of, Gravner seems to have one of the likeliest claims on the label “non-interventionalist” but he will shrug off such a label if he hears it, insisting that all winemaking is intervention in a natural process that leads to vinegar. Gravner has deliberately not adopted the principles of organic or biodynamic winemaking, instead opting to just do things “his way.”

If his way produces wine like this, then I’m more than content to sit back and let him work. This is his first vintage of Ribolla made entirely in amphorae, and tasting the way it does, it’s not hard to understand why Gravner has given up wood entirely. Gravner’s formula for this wine involves an incredible amount of extended skin contact, sometimes more than six months, which produces the incredibly gorgeous and distinctive orange color of this wine, not to mention its heady aromatics and tannic structure.

Tasting Notes:
A distinct and vibrant medium orange color in the glass, this wine smells of something otherworldly — a concoction of roasted nuts, bee pollen, orange blossom honey, and an elusive floral aroma. In the mouth the wine is unusually silky, without being heavy on the tongue. Awash with a myriad of flavors ranging from wet dirt to orange creamsicle, tangerine zest, and pine sap, this wine is a technicolor dreamcoat of flavors that all but forces a smile. Despite being made from white grapes, the wine has a distinct, light tannic structure that gives it a muscular quality. Excellent acidity and a minutes-long finish seal the bargain. Outstanding.

For orange wines, this seems to be their breakout year. About half a dozen American winemakers have adopted the technique. It’s probably too soon to qualify these as more than a mini-movement. Paolo Domeneghetti of Domaine Select, who likely imports more orange wines than anyone, brings in fewer than 1,000 cases annually, so although it is a movement it is still very small.

Del Dotto is a former real estate broker that now owns to Del Dotto vineyards in Napa valley. Del Dotto is now fermenting some of his wines in clay amphorae after purchasing  four amphorae–said to be 300 years old–in Tuscany for $15,000 each. Del Dotto insists that he’s serious about using the raw terra cotta-lined vessels–which are 4-feet high, 6 feet in diameter and hold about 2 tons–because they lend a pure fruitiness to the wines, and a definitively organic, earthy quality. Del Dotto also sees a great marketing tale in them.

French Champagne vs. It’s American cousin

Posted in Wine Production: Various types on March 19, 2010 by jponzi

There are many sparkling wines produced worldwide, yet most legal structures reserve the term “champagne” exclusively for sparkling wines from the Champagne region, made in accordance with Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne regulations. Le Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC) is an organization grouping the actors of the Champagne production and trade – growers, cooperatives and merchants – under the direction of the government.It is charged with organizing and controlling the production, distribution, and promotion of the wines of Champagne as well as conducting research. Until 1990 it set the price of grapes and still intervenes to regulate the size of the harvest and to limit the production of wine in order to maintain market prices.One of the prominent activities of CIVC is to safeguard the name Champagne, which is a protected designation of origin as well as a very valuable trademark. CIVC is quick to resort to litigation at any non-authorized use of the Champagne name. CVIC enforces the following diagram for the sweetness and sugar level of champagnes made in Champagne, France.

  • Brut Natural or Brut Zéro (less than 3 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Extra Brut (less than 6 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Brut (less than 15 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Extra Sec or Extra Dry (12 to 20 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Sec (17 to 35 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Demi-Sec (33 to 50 grams of sugar per liter)
  • Doux (more than 50 grams of sugar per liter)

In the European Union and many other countries, the name Champagne is legally protected by the Treaty of Madrid (1891) designating only the sparkling wine produced in the eponymous region and adhering to the standards defined for it as an Appellation d’origine contrôlée; the right was reaffirmed in the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. This legal protection has been accepted by numerous other countries worldwide. Most recently Canada, Australia and Chile signed agreements with Europe that will limit the use of the term “champagne” to only those products produced in the Champagne region. The United States acknowledges the exclusive nature of the “champagne” term and bans the use from all new US produced wines. Only those that had approval to use the term on labels before 2006 may continue to use it and only when it is accompanied by the wine’s actual origin (e.g. California).

The majority of US produced sparkling wines do not use the term “champagne” on their labels. In the United States, name protection of wine growing place names is becoming more important. Several key U.S. wine regions such as those in California (Napa, Sonoma Valley, Paso Robles), Oregon, and Walla Walla, Washington now view the remaining semi-generic labels as harmful to their reputations

Even the term méthode champenoise or champagne method was forbidden consequent to an EU court decision in 1994.As of 2005, the description most often legally used for sparkling wines not from Champagne yet using the second fermentation in the bottle process is méthode traditionnelle.

In the United States many wineries make sparkling wine by using the methode traditionelle (methode championese). Virtually Americans are making champagne by using the precise wine making methods used to make champagne from Champagne, France but since there has been new laws and regulations passed, everywhere else in the world the process should be referred to as sparkling wine made by methode tradutionelle. The history of producing quality sparkling wine in California can be traced to the Sonoma Valley where, in 1892, the Korbel brothers (immigrated from Bohemia in 1852 no the Czech Republic) began producing sparkling wine according to the méthode traditionelle.(championese) The first wines produced were made from Riesling, Muscatel, Traminer and Chasselas grapes.

Partly aided by the foreign influence, the overall quality of Californian sparklers increased with the introduction of the more traditional Champagne grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinot blanc into the production. US AVA (American Viticulture Area) requirements and wine laws do not regulate the sugar levels and sweetness of wine though most producers tend to follow European standards with Brut wine having less than 1.5% sugar up to Doux having more than 5%. As the sparkling wine industry in California grew, foreign investments from some of the Champagne region’s most noted Champagne houses came to set up wineries in the area. These include Moët et Chandon’s Domaine Chandon, Louis Roederer’s Roederer Estate, and Taittinger’s Domaine Carneros.

While many top American sparkling wine producers utilize the French Champagne methods of production, there are distinct differences in their wine-making techniques that have a considerable effect on the taste of the wines. In Champagne, the cuvee blend will rarely have less than 30 wines and sometimes as many as 60 that are taken from grapes spanning 4–6 years of different vintages. In Champagne, the cuvée is the first 2,050 liters of grape juice from 4,000 kg of grapes (a marc), while the following 500 liters are known as the taille (tail), and is expected to give wines of a more coarse character. Many Champagne producers pride themselves on only using the cuvée in their wine. In California, cuvees are typically derived from around 20 wines taken from 1 to 2 years worth of vintages. French Champagne laws require that the wine spend a minimum of 15 months on the lees for non-vintage and minimum 3 years for vintage Champagne. Lees refers to deposits of dead yeast or residual yeast and other particles that precipitate, or are carried by the action of “fining”, to the bottom of a vat of wine after fermentation and aging. It is not uncommon for a premium Champagne to age for 7 years or more prior to release. In the US, there are no minimum requirements, and aging length can vary from 8 months to 6 years. Another distinct difference, particularly in Californian sparkling wines, is the favorable Californian climate, which allows a vintage wine to be produced nearly every year.

How Sparkling and Champagne wines are made

Posted in Wine Production: Various types on March 19, 2010 by jponzi


There are four methods that may be used to make sparkling wine. These methods are:

  • Methode Champenoise (Only Champagne, France)- called Méthode traditionelle (traditional method) everywhere else
  • Transfer Method
  • Charmat Bulk process (Metodo italiano)
  • simple CO2 injection
Now lets view a video the is an overview of the various methods used to produce sparkling wines.

Methode Champenoise is the most labor-intensive and costly of these.Before we get into how sparkling wines are made, we should first make a distinction between sparkling wine and champagne. Champagne is sparkling wine, but sparkling wine is not necessarily champagne. True champagne is produced in the Champagne region of France by using the Methode Champenoise and is produced from a high quality grape. In many circles in the United States, the term “champagne” has become a general term to include any sparkling wine. These are frequently made from inferior grapes through bulk processing and are often sweetened to mask their inferior quality. They are not true Champagnes.

Sparkling wines are made from both white and red grape varieties. The quality of the fruit is critical to the outcome of the finished product. In the Champagne region of France, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier are used. But in other internationally recognized sparkling regions, like Asti, other varieties such as Muscat Blanco may be used. The grapes are harvested earlier than those picked for still (table) wine. There are several reasons for this early harvesting. One reason is to obtain a lower alcohol level in the cuvee (wine made from the initial fermentation, also called “base” wine). During the fermenting process the sugar is converted to alcohol, therefore the lower the sugar content of the grapes, the lower the alcohol content of the finished product. The reason for the lower alcohol content in the base wine is that the wine will go through another fermentation process that will increase the alcohol level. Another reason for harvesting grapes while at a lower sugar level is to produce a higher total acidity and lower pH rating. This adds longevity and crispness to the wine.

Now lets take a look at the four different methods winemakers may use to make sparkling wines:

Methode Champenoise is a more labor-intensive and expensive method than the other two methods of producing sparkling wine. After harvesting the fruit, the juice is pressed and put into containers for the first fermentation. These containers are either stainless steel vats or oak barrels. When the first fermentation is complete, various lots of wine are blended together to produce an assemblage (the final blend of varieties for the finished wine). Then a mixture of yeast and sugar, called a triage, is added to the base wine. The wine is bottled with a small plastic cup that fits in the neck of the bottle and collects any sediment. This small plastic cup is called a “bidule” The second fermentation takes place in the bottle and due to the sugar and yeast being added, alcohol and carbon dioxide are produced. Due to carbon dioxide formation and pressures up to 90 pounds per square inch, bottles for Champagne and sparkling wine must be thicker than regular wine bottles. During the second fermentation, temperature plays an important role. Cooler temperatures produce finer bubbles. Once the second fermentation is complete, dead yeast cells begin to break down and form a sediment in the wine. This process is called autolysis. The winemaker decides how long to allow for the autolysis process and this in turn has an impact on the final taste of the wine. The sediment must then be removed without losing the carbon dioxide and sparkle. The first step in doing this is riddling or remuage. In years past, this was done by inserting the neck of the wine bottle into a rack, called a pupitres, that would hold it at a 45 degree angle so the dead yeast cells would settle into the neck where the bidule was attached. Then every few days, a trained person, called a remuer, would give each of the bottles a quick shake and increase the angle of the bottles until they were eventually positioned completely downward, thereby collecting all the sediment in the neck. Today, the riddling process is automated. Next the sediment is removed by disgorgement. This is where the bottle is placed neck down in an icy brine to freeze the sediment into a solid plug. The cap is then removed and the pressure inside the bottle causes the frozen sediment to be expelled. Then a “dosage” is added. This dosage is a small amount of wine mixed with sugar and sometime brandy and it determines the sweetness or dryness of the sparkling wine. The bottle is then corked and secured with a wire hood.

The Transfer Method of making sparkling wine is similar to the Methode Champenoise except that instead of riddling to remove the sediment, the wine is transferred to a pressurized tank where the sediment is filtered. It is then bottled, corked and secured with a wire hood in preparation for sale to the public.

The Charmat Bulk Process is known as the “Metodo Italiano” in Italy, where it is most used. Charmat Bulk process is the quickest and least expensive method of making sparkling wine. With this process, instead of the wine going through the second fermentation in the bottle, the base wine is placed in a temperature-controlled, pressurized tank to which sugar and yeast is added.These tanks are usually make of stainless steel. The secondary fermentation takes place in this tank without the release of any carbon dioxide. This tank acts like a very large bottle. Once the fermenting is complete, the wine is filtered under counter pressure and bottled using a counter-pressure filler. Because the wine has not spent the same amount of time in contact with the carbon dioxide, the bubbles tend to be larger and dissipate more quickly. Many grape varieties like Prosecco are best suited for fermentation in tanks. Metodo Italiano sparkling wines can be sold at slightly lower prices than méthode champenoise wines.

The process was first studied by the Italian enologist Federico Martinotti and patented in 1907 by French winemaker Eugene Charmat, but quickly abandoned. It was only in the late 1930s the process was totally redefined and completely renovated by Antonio Carpenè, Jr (founder of the Prosecco di Conegliano and Valdobbiadene industry, and the father of Etile and Clara Carpenè, two renowned Prosecco producers) to adapt it to the Italian Prosecco grapes. The secondary fermentation in tanks under this renovated method proved to be ideal for the Prosecco grapes and surpassing in many aspects the quality of secondary fermentation in individual bottles.

CO2 injection method is the final production method where CO2 gas is simply add to the wine to create carbonation. In a carbon dioxide injection process, fermentation will occur in a stainless steel vat that is pressurized.  The yeast and sugar are added under high heat, high-pressure conditions.  The wine is cooled, and then clarified.  Instead of subjecting the wine to a secondary fermentation process, the carbon dioxide is injected into the liquid and is bottled.  This process is generally reserved for only the least expensive brands of sparkling wines.

Here is a video of CO2 injection in action:

The Battle of the Roses- French vs. American

Posted in History and Origin, Wine Production: Various types on March 15, 2010 by jponzi

A rosé wine has some of the color typical of a red wine, but only enough to turn it pink. The pink color can range from a pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes and wine making techniques.

There are three major ways to produce rosé wine.

  • Skin Contact

Winemakers employing this technique crush red-skinned grapes and allow the skins to remain in contact with the juice for a short period of time, typically 2-3 days. The grapes are then pressed and the skins removed. (When making red wine, the skins are left in contact with the juice during the entire fermentation period.) The longer the skins are allowed to be in contact with the juice, the more reddish the color of the finished product. A lot of the flavorful tannins are found in the skin and that’s why rosé typically tastes more like white wine than red.

  • Saignée

When winemakers produce rosé wine as a by-product of red wine fermentation, they normally employ this method. Saignée (pronounced ‘sonyay’) is French for “bled” and an equivalent English expression is bleeding the vats.

When a winemaker wishes to make a red wine more colourful and flavorsome by increasing the amount of tannins, he or she can decide to remove some of the pink juice from the must at an early stage. (The remaining wine in the vats will now contain a higher degree of tannins since the volume of juice in the must has decreased.) Instead of discarding the pink juice that was removed when the vats were “bled”, the winemaker can turn it into rosé wine by allowing it to ferment.

  • Blending

Mixing a red and white wine will result in a pinkish wine, but this method of producing rosé is not commonly used. It is frowned upon in most winegrowing regions, with Champagne being a notable exception. Even in Champagane however, many high-end producers opt for the saignée technique rather then blending red and white.

The Birth of the White Zinfadel:

In the early 1970s, demand for white wine exceeded the availability of white wine grapes, so many California producers made “white” wine from red grapes, in a form of saignée production with minimal skin contact. The saying went the “whiter” the better. In 1975 Sutter Home’s “White Zinfadel,” (red grapes harvested to only produce white juice) wine experienced a stuck fermentation which is when the yeast dies off before all the sugar is turned to alcohol. In the hast of the wine making season and frustrated with the non-fermenting mixture, winemaker Bob Trinchero put it aside.  Then in two weeks he returned to the batch and upon tasting it he decided to sell this pinker, sweeter wine: the White Zinfadel was born.

Rosè is more expensive than a good comparable champagne due to the extra steps and uncertainties involved in making it.California, although lacking the great French character, tend to be more reasonable in price. Battling the American idea that “pink champagne” is sickly sweet and déclassé, California wineries have forged ahead with production of rosè. Sparkling rosé wines from

True rosè champagne , of course, can only come from Champagne, France, where it is made according to the classic méthode champenoise. The grapes (a combination of Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay) are pressed for their juice, which is fermented, then blended, then fermented again in the bottle with the addition of liqueur de triage (sugar and yeast). The wine is capped, then aged, riddled (the bottles are turned upside down to work sediment into the neck), disgorged (the sediment is removed by freezing the bottle necks), sweetened with a dosage (wine and sugar), and, finally, corked for shipping. Developed by the monk Dom Perignon in the late 1600s, it is the most elaborate winemaking process in the world and, in the case of rosé champagne, one of the most unpredictable.

All grape juice is white, regardless of whether it comes from red or white grapes. There are two techniques to give rosè champagne its hue which ranges from golden vermeil to pale peach to salmon pink to deep berry. The first is to  add still red wine (usually local Pinot Noir ) just before the second fermentation. The second is to leave the red/purple grape skins and pulp in contact with the mustChampagne Rosé, and the consumer must be prepared to pay accordingly. (contents of vat) for a short time. If the wrong amount of red wine is added, the cuvée can be full of undrinkable deposits and turn a bizarre color. And if the red grape skins are left to steep too long, the champagne can turn blue or brown or orange. The winemaker must be part scientist, part artist. Such expertise is rare. Only about 3 percent of all champagne production is

ICE WINE- The price you pay for sweetness=> all proceeds benefit the Germans, Canadians, and Americans

Posted in Wine Production: Various types with tags , , , on March 11, 2010 by jponzi

Icewine, or Eiswein, originated in Franconia, Germany in 1794. Grapes were left on the vines until the first deep frost, and the freeze cycles that occurred concentrated both the sugars and flavors of the grapes. The process was refined, and now ice wines are highly prized drinks that are created in Germany, Austria, Canada and the United States.

First lets look at a German eiswein firm:

In Germany Dr. Loosen’s Eiswein is a popular eiswein and all German ice wines are made from Riesling grapes. Its 3 a.m. on a cold winter day and owner  Ernst Loosen receives a  call,  “It was my chief viticulturalist,” says one of Germany’s most talked about winemakers. “We knew from the forecast that the frost was coming, but that night the temperature had dropped sufficiently. ‘This is it,’ he told me on the phone. ‘We start picking in an hour.'”

By 4 a.m. on Dec. 17, 2009 Mr. Loosen had raised his team of pickers. Their destination was Erdener Prälat, a vineyard off  the banks of the Mosel in Germany. By 10 a.m. the team had finished. If you have ever wondered why the price of vintage Eiswein can cost as much as £50 for a small bottle — now you know. This is wine-making to the extreme.

Despite Germany’s historical association with Eiswein, the unreliability of its harvest has opened the door to a major competitor. Lately Germany has been experiencing warmer winters making it more and more difficult for German ice wine-makers to keep up.

Canada now produces more Eiswein (they refer to it as ice wine) than any other country in the world as its winters are reliably long and cold. Stylistically, they are a little more forward than their counterparts in Germany because they add more tropical fruit to receive a fuller flavor. This is because unlike Germany where most ice wines are made from Riesling, in Canada they are made from a grape variety known as Vidal. There is still limited availability in Europe but Inniskillin (Canada), Jackson Triggs (Canada) and Mission Hill (Canada) are all worth seeking out.

Now lets move to North America to see how they get the job done: Inniskillin- Most Prestigious Canadian Ice wine and Casa Larga- Most Prestigious American Ice Wine

Inniskillin is located in both the Canadian Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley. This is where the magical process of crafting Icewine begins.  Triggered by the snap of the wintry elements, the harvest can’t begin until temperatures drop below minus eight degrees Celsius for a sustained period of time. There are rigorous specifications regulating the making of Icewine set out by Canada ‘s quality control board, the VQA (Vintner’s Quality Alliance) and artificial freezing of the grapes is strictly prohibited.

Once the extreme temperatures arrive, Icewine pickers harvest the frozen clusters, in the dead of night. The precious grapes are immediately pressed in the extreme cold to extract the juice. In this process, the water content in each grape remains frozen in crystals, leaving only a few coveted drops of concentrated, intense liquid. Icewine yields are a mere 10-15% of an average table wine harvest. Slowly fermented over the coming months, this delicate nectar will eventually become Icewine. The finished Icewine is intense, sweet and sumptuous, yet balanced with brilliant acidity, creating a unique sensation on the palate. Inniskillin Icewine is well renowned as the world leader in Icewine. It is sold in over 59 countries and is the #1 distributed wine in Global Travel Retail.

Although Canadian Ice wines dominate the current market, we can not forget about the leading Amercian ice wine makers at Casa Larga.

Casa Larga Vineyards is located outside of Rochester, NY in the Finger lakes Wine Region. For 35 years the Colaruotolo family has been committed to producing superior, award-winning wines. Since the 1990’s they’ve produced their award winning Fiori Ice Wines.  The climate at the vineyards on Turk Hill Road in New York is ideal for production of this luscious dessert wine.  Fiori Vidal Ice Wine is the most awarded Ice Wine in the U.S. and is the “World’s Best Dessert Wine”, having won the Trophy for Best Dessert Wine at the 2008 International Wine & Spirits Competition in London.

Casa Larga is deeply rooted in heritage and tradition.  In staying true to these roots, they produce Ice Wine using the authentic methods of the German Eiswein techniques.

  • Grapes are left on the vine through the standard harvest season until late December
  • In early October, the vines are covered with a net to deter birds from feasting on the grapes
  • Grapes are harvested when the grapes are frozen, typically around 18 degrees Fahrenheit.

The grapes are left on the vine past harvest and into the frigid time of winter to reach maturity.  They are harvested typically in late December or early January when the temperature drops below freezing – typically around 18 degrees Fahrenheit.  The vines are not thinned, helping to maintain the high acidity, but the risk involved with producing Ice Wine is high. The longer the grapes stay on the vine, the more prone they are to being damaged or consumed by animals. Weather also plays an important role in producing Ice Wine. Due to the concentration of fruit sugars, it takes a large amount of acreage to produce a small amount of Ice Wine.

The grapes are picked by hand and pressed using a hydraulic press. The syrupy juice trickles down the sides of the press and is gently delivered to a fermentation tank. This yields an extremely concentrated nectar that produces a sweet juice. Cool fermentation is required to maintain a bright nose and beautiful aroma of the wine. The wine is not blended, but is bottled using a mechanical bottling conveyor line. Below is a video about the wine making process at Casa Larga in America: