Cold snap leads to ice wine harvest

Cold snap leads to ice wine harvest

GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- While many people prefer to stay inside during the cold weather, the icy temperatures are a perk for northern Michigan winemakers.

Old mission winery Chateau Chantal picked their frozen grapes this morning to make their seasonal ice wine.

“You do have to wait for those ideal temperatures and when they are ready you have to go out there no matter how cold and pick them up while you can,” said Marie-Chantal Dalese, Chateau Chantal CEO.

For winemakers at Chateau Chantal in Traverse City working in cold weather is what it takes to be one of the only wineries in the world that can make ice wine.

“We do have a unique climate that allows us to make this most years,” said Dalese. “We do take a risk by leaving the fruit out on the vine, but when you get the deep-freeze that is required you can make this really special unique dessert wine.”

When wine makers saw the temperature was below 13 degrees this week, they jumped at the opportunity.

By the end of the morning winemakers picked more than 650 pounds of frozen grapes.

Once the winemakers picked all of the grapes outside, they headed inside to the cellar where those grapes were pressed and fermented to make their famous ice wine.

“We are pressing it now and then we wait a couple of days and let all of the solid settle out,” said Brian Hosmer, winemaker at Chateau Chantal. “Then we do what we call we call racking, where we pump the clear juice off the top then we just ferment the clean juice.”

Winemakers say ice wine grapes are naturally sweeter because all of the grape's water is frozen causing the grape to have a higher concentration of sugar.

“It takes months to ferment rather than just a few weeks,” said Dalese. “So it does have an extended time process, but after that it just requires a little bit of extra aging and it's ready to go.”

Chateau Chantal says they enjoy making ice wine so much that they are starting an ice wine festival which will be held on January 26th.

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