Frosty nights ensure another successful ice wine harvest


For the third time in this wine year the thermometer dropped to minus seven degrees Celsius and below. Winegrowers again had the chance to harvest frozen grapes for the production of ice wine.

After the conditions for ice wine production were often not optimal in recent years and only occasionally grapes could be harvested at temperatures of  -7 ° C prescribed for ice wine, all those wine producers who had not completely harvested their grapes last autumn can look forward to this year's Eiswein vintage. 

Prerequisite: temperature of -7 degrees °C or colder

As early as the night of November 30, 2020, some winegrowers in the wine regions NaheMosel, RheinhessenPfalzFranken and in the Rheingau successfully harvested frozen ice wine grapes. As reported by the German Wine Institute (DWI), this comparable early date for the ice wine harvest was very beneficial for the wine quality, since the grapes for ice wine production should be as healthy as possible.

The first few weeks of the new year also saw freezing temperatures suitable for ice wine. Therefore on 11th, 16th and 17th January, the coveted deep-frozen grapes could also be brought into the cellars of other wine regions. With wine producers from Baden, from the Hessische Bergstraße as well as from the growing areas of Saale-Unstrut, Saxony and Württemberg, numerous winegrowers from altogehter 11 growing areas harvested the noble sweet wine specialty.

A list of this year's ice wine producers can be found here and in the download area (without claiming to be complete).

This year’s exceptionally healthy grapes offer the best conditions for high-quality ice wines. Mostly Riesling grapes were harvested, which are particularly suitable for ice wine making due to their later ripeness.

Of the 66 hectares of vineyards that were prepared for a possible ice harvest this year in Rhineland-Pfalz alone, according to the local Chamber of Agriculture, only a certain part may have been harvested so far as the low temperatures had not been reached in all areas.

In regards to the ice harvest: the colder it gets, the higher the concentration levels in the grape berries. In Franken, on the morning of November 30, 2020, the thermometer for harvesting the noble sweet specialty fell to minus twelve degrees Celsius!

Rich full flavour with little alcohol

Ice wines are the pinnacle of a good vintage. Their secret lies in the dense concentration of the berry ingredients. In the frosty temperatures, the water in the berries freezes and remains in the wine press. The juice then drips from the press as sweet as honey. It is only with great difficulty that yeasts can ferment musts with such a high sugar content into wine . Accordingly, ice wines usually have a very high natural residual sugar content of well over 100 grams per litre, but in contrast to southern sweet wines, only have a relatively low alcohol content - often only around seven percent by volume.

The special thing about these noble drops is that, thanks to the fresh fruit acid, their enormous residual sweetness is not overpowering. As a rarity and specialty, they enjoy great international recognition.

Ice wines are wonderful accompaniments on festive occasions and are ideal as an aperitif. As a menu pairing, they are recommended with fruity desserts, ice cream or sorbets.

More News

Video-Archive: Icewine Harvest (only available in German language)


Frozen grapes - Ice wine Harvest on the Mosel 2020.