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Cold Snap delivers Icewine in Germany


A sudden cold snap sending temperatures plummeting to -12C in several top grape growing regions, enabled vintners in some exceptional cases to harvest icewine ("Eiswein") in Germany. Eiswein is made exclusively from grapes left to freeze on the vine, creating a sweet, concentrated wine with a unique quality and flavour.

At 4am on Monday, december 29th 2014, the thermometer hit -12C e.g. in the southern wine growing region of Baden (Kaiserstuhl/Schliengen) and Franken (Franconia). In individual cases a 2014 harvest was also possible in Rhinland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) as well as Saxony (Sachsen).

Equipped with head torches and wrapped in anoraks, scores of grape pickers braved freezing conditions and darkness to bring in a bumper harvest. watch our icewine video

A light dusting of snow reflected the ground cold on to the grapes and ensured they were frozen through, a prerequisite for harvesting icewine.

Vineyards at Kaiserstuhl, with its rich volcanic soil, were forecasting production of up to 500 litres of Eiswein per estate. “It is always good to harvest the wine in the old rather than the new year,” said Philip Dahm from the wine makers association in Schliengen. "The longer the grapes stay on the vine, the more they dry out."

Most German wine growers deliberately leave a portion of their grapes on the vine in the hope that temperatures will drop below the magic -7C needed for Eiswein. Harvesting can take place as late as January or even February the following year. However, seeing that october 2014 was too wet, many wine makers had decided to harvest their grapes in october. Therefore, the total volume of 2014 Eiswein will be limited.