HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP —
When the temperature dips low and the moon is high, winemaker Nick Ferrante gets excited about ice wine.
Ferrante, of Ferrante Winery, left the grapes on the vine a little longer than usual this year — all in the pursuit of the perfect sugary dessert wine.
“I made the decision to allow the grapes to continue to hang until colder temperatures created a solid freeze,” he said.
Waiting for low temperatures didn’t come without consequences. The overall yield will be less this year due to berry shriveling, decomposition and wildlife eating the grapes through the netting.
“We are hoping to yield about eight to 10 tons of grapes,” Ferrante said, “which will only produce about 300 gallons of wine. Despite the lower yield in fruit, the flavors will be more concentrated resulting in an exceptional wine.”
The grapes that are picked average 35 brix and will be fermented down to 15 percent residual sugar. The grapes were mechanically harvested, squeezed and pressed early into the morning. The wine will be bottled in the spring.
Ice wine grapes are usually harvested in late December or January. Many wineries in the region harvested the ice wine grapes earlier in January, but despite the colder temperature, Ferrante’s ice wine grapes weren’t entirely frozen.
“The fruit must be properly frozen with temperatures ranging between 12 and 17 degrees to ensure higher sugar content and quality,” Ferrante said. “Generally, grapes contain a higher amount of water than sugar, so once the temperature drops below freezing point, the water in the grapes becomes frozen. This concentrates the sugar and when pressed, produces a pure flavor with natural sweetness.”
Ferrante’s Vidal Blanc Ice Wine is a dessert wine with rich aromas of apricot and orange blossoms with flavors of honey and ripe melon.
The Ferrante Ice Wine will be showcased at the 10th annual Grand River Valley Ice Wine Festival on March 2, 9 and 16. Participating wineries will offer wine and food samples from noon to 5 p.m.
Ferrante Winery and Ristorante will also host a three course ice wine dinner paired with a sampling of wines on March 1, 8, and 15. For more information visit www.FerranteWinery.com.