Students learn icewine harvesting

(Updated) The teaching winery at Niagara College is giving students the cold, hard facts about harvesting icewine.

The students were out at 6 this morning in the freezing temperatures to begin the long process of picking the grapes. By law, the temperature must be minus 8 degrees celsius or lower in order for the grapes to be picked for ice wine.

Some had to be cut off the vines, while others were removed by hand. Niagara College professor Ron Giesbrecht explains why ice wine is so expensive.

“When you take them into the winery they are really low yielding. They may get 700, 750 litres of a ton of grapes at regular harvest time. You are getting 150, 200, 250 depending on conditions for ice wine. You get a lot less yield.”

After the grapes are picked they go into a press, originally designed for olive pressing in italy. They stomp the grapes in the barrels to fit in as many grapes as possible in one press load to send to the next machines.

Small drips of juice will come out under high pressure. Once the juice settles it’s warmed up and fermented.

The only thing added is some yeast otherwise the grapes do all the work. The students will be back to learn all about the pressing process throughout the afternoon.


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