An inflow of Arctic air pushed temperatures in Kelowna towards levels needed for ice wine this week, just as the deadline for producers to register their intention to make the sweet beverage approached.
Temperatures approached -7° Celsius as midnight approached on November 7, a degree away from the -8° C that frozen grapes must reach prior to harvest. However, continued cold temperatures this week could result in the year’s first pick of grapes at select Okanagan locations. Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna plans to pick its grapes Thursday morning if conditions continue.
According to Wine Growers BC, seven wineries have registered intentions to pick 155 tonnes from 43 acres this year. This is up from 107 tonnes last year.
However, the actual size of the harvest depends on how late the harvest occurs. The longer the grapes hang, the more dessicated the fruit becomes and concentrated the flavours. There’s also greater chance of being plundered by birds, resulting in a smaller pick.
The first harvest last year occurred December 17 with a mere 22 tonnes eventually harvested. This was the smallest-ever harvest for ice wine and represented just a fifth of what the four registered wineries registered to harvest.
The last day for wineries to register their intention to produce ice wine with the BC Wine Authority is November 9.
BCWA regulates production of the beverage, whose criteria are defined by provincial regulation.
According to the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation, eligible grapes must have “frozen naturally on the vine while the air temperature is -8°C or lower, and be pressed in a continuous process while the grapes are still frozen.” The rules also set standards for sugar content and other components.
Wineries must register their intention to produce ice wine before producing in order for BCWA to recognize the finished wines.