Icewine harvest back on in Germany

A cold snap has guaranteed icewine for Germany’s producers in the 2011 vintage but conditions have been less favourable in North America.

The mild winter over 2011/12 initially made it likely that an icewine harvest would not be possible. However, a drop in temperature on Tuesday night (17 January) has changed this for Germany’s producers.

Wines of Germany has received news from producers in Baden, Franconia, Mosel, Rheingau, the Pfalz, Württemberg and Rheinhessen, all reporting an icewine harvest.

More notable vineyards in which harvests have been reported so far include Würzburger Pfaffenberg in Franconia, Assmannshauser Höllenberg and Wicke Nonnberg in the Rheingau and Maringer Sonnenuhr in the Mosel.

Despite this lucky break for those gambling on a chance to make icewine this year, there will be exceptionally limited amounts as yields fell dramatically due to the long wait.

Also a rarity in the 2011 vintage will be icewine from North America. Growers across Canada and the US states of New York, Ohio, Minnesota and Massachusetts appear to have largely abandoned the idea after a lack of sufficient frosts.

In Ontario the weather has been too warm to fall below the required -8 degrees centigrade and too many grapes had been lost during the wait for a freeze that has not arrived.

In the US, there was a fall in temperatures on 3 January but it came a month later than usual and has not been repeated since, depriving the grapes of the successive freeze and thaw cycles needed to concentrate the juice.

Although some growers picked after this one freeze hoping for the best, many have left their remaining crop to the birds – as in Germany, yields were already down 20% because of the long wait.

2 Responses to “Icewine harvest back on in Germany”

  1. elizabeth young says:

    i am interested in ice wines from germany and austria, viniculture, growing and possibly investing in
    icewine in some way. if you have any information you can share with me, i would appreciate very much. thank you

    • Rupert Millar says:

      Elizabeth,

      Hope I can be of some help. Not sure what you mean by the viticulture and growing connected with icewine. There are many books out there that can explain it far better than I. It’s a rather haphazard sort of production – no one can make it when produced properly, which is leaving a proportion of the crop on the vine to freeze, concentrating the juice, so it’s not produced every year.

      As for investment, sadly icewine is not investment material. There’s very little demand for sweet wines on an investment/auction market with the exception of Château d’Yquem. Although German and Austrian sweet wines – and Tokay – are among the most beautiful and complex of any wines in the world, there’s no second market for them.

      On the other hand, this means one can pick them up for very attractive prices and for sheer excellence and enjoyment there are few wines I’d rather collect more. I can’t recommend one specific vineyard for their icewines as production is so irregular and weather dependent, but if you find the very best Austrian and German producers it is highly likely that if and when they make an icewine it will be good too, particularly if the producer has a reputation for making more traditional off-dry/sweet wines. Traditional producers in the Mosel and Rheingau are a good place to start.

      Hope that helps.

      Rupert

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