Vt. vineyard uses cold temps to get sweet results

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 5:36 PM EST
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SOUTH HERO, Vt. (WCAX) - While the frigid temperatures might not be ideal for some, the conditions are perfect for making ice wine. Cam Smith spoke with a local vineyard about the process.

“It’s the love of our life,” said Julie Lane, the co-owner of Snow Farm Vineyard in South Hero. For the Lane family, winters typically consist of making what’s known as ice wine. “It’s a very unique wine that is made with grapes that are left on the vine -- usually until December. We kind of round it out about December and we also say approximately three days in a row around 20 degrees.”

Lane says the process dates back to the late 1700s and early 1800s in Germany, and it’s all about the temperature. “Right now, in January, it’s minus three at our house this morning. Wind chill temperatures are a factor. It’s actually okay in January if it’s cold. If it’s extreme cold, it’s fine. December is a little bit more of a worry if it goes up and down and fluctuates,” she said.

If temperatures are too warm, it’s possible the grapes will rot. Once they’re harvested, they are brought in and pressed into a thick syrup which then ferments in a bulk tank for anywhere from three to four weeks. “What’s happening is they’re turning into little raisins. The water evaporates out by Mother Nature and the sugars, called residual sugars, concentrate and get stronger,” Lane said.

According to a winemaker at the vineyard, ice wine typically contains more than 20% of the residual sugars compared to a dry wine, which is only .5% “It’s very, very, very, very sweet,” Lane said.

While this season’s ice wine is already sold out, Snow Farm is working on another batch.

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