Icewine is the magical gift made in the dead cold of winter after grapes have been naturally frozen on the vine. Each grape is harvested by hand when temperatures fall below -10°C. To be deemed genuine VQA Icewine, the grapes must be a result of nature’s seasonal changes and not artificially frozen.
Vintners Quality Alliance, or VQA, is a regulatory and appellation system which guarantees the high quality and authenticity of origin for Canadian wines made under that system in British Columbia and Ontario. The VQA mark is your symbol of guaranteed high quality when choosing VQA wine.
A delicious accident, Icewine was first discovered in Germany in 1794, using frozen grapes after a harsh winter. The winemakers were amazed at the sweet product that was produced. Canadian wineries are expert at this difficult, but rewarding process and many have won international awards perfecting this sweet and luscious nectar.
The two most famous Canadian areas for making prized Icewines are British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, where the climate conditions are perfect for making the best Icewine. VQA Icewine is recognized in these regions. The hot summer temperatures ripen the grapes for part of the year and the extremely cold winters freeze them for the remaining time. This unique climate helps to create and maintain the high acidity of the grapes which is necessary for proper production.
You may ask yourself why VQA Icewine is more expensive than other VQA wines. There are a few reasons for this. The production of Icewine requires ten times the amount of grapes used to make the equivalent in traditional wine. To put it another way, if one vine makes one bottle of traditional wine, it may only make one glass of Icewine.
Icewine producers take a big risk by leaving the grapes on the vines, waiting for the ideal temperatures. The grapes are left on the vines until the temperature falls between -10°C and -13°C. The unpredictable Canadian winter allows the grapes to freeze and thaw several times before harvest. The grapes must then be picked very carefully and processed quickly to achieve optimum results.
Leaving the grapes on the vines dehydrates the grapes and allows for the concentration of sugars and acids which intensifies the flavour. When the frozen grapes are pressed, the water stays in the skin and forms ice crystals, allowing only a very small amount of precious juice to be expressed.
VQA Icewines come in many varieties and flavours. The most popular varietals are Vidal and Riesling. Flavours can include apricot, peach, mango, melon, lychee and many other fruit flavours as well as those with a nutty undertone.
Icewine does not need to be served alone, it can be paired with strong cheeses and pates or as a dessert wine with fruit. Some chefs use Icewine in dessert recipes, while others may choose to use it in a cocktail. If you are feeling a little adventurous, try Icewine with a spicy dish like curry!
Icewine is best served chilled but not cold and is usually served in a small dessert glass (or shot glass, in a pinch). If you don’t drink the whole bottle it will last in the fridge about 3-5 days. However, Icewine is so delicious, it is unlikely that your guests will leave you with any leftovers!
King’s Court Estate Winery offers several VQA Icewines including Vidal, Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Ehrenfelser. Feel free to view our products to learn more and compare the different fruit and taste combinations. Let one of our experts help you to choose which Icewine works best for your occasion, event or menu. Once you have enjoyed Canadian VQA Icewine, you won’t be able to stop talking about it!
Would you like sample some of King’s Court Estate Winery’s Award Winning Icewines?
Book a Private Wine Tasting with our Winemaker!