Harvest for ice wine gets underway in the Grand River Valley

Nick Ferrante pours a sample of his Vidal Blanc grape juice that will be made into ice wine.

HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — Grand River Valley Region wine makers are harvesting and pressing grapes for their internationally renowned ice wines.

One of the first harvests of Vidal Blanc ice wine grapes is already being pressed at Ferrante Winery and Ristorante on

Route 307 in Harpersfield. The super sweet grape juice is flowing and ready

to be aged and turned into ice wine. 

Ice wine is made from grapes that have been harvested after being left on the vine until frozen, which makes the grapes’ sugar content high. Originally a German delicacy, ice wine is now popular around the world, often served as a dessert wine.

Another harvest will take place there soon and the process will start again.

“We’ve picked 5.5 tons of grapes on Wednesday,” said winemaker and owner Nick Ferrante. “We’ll be doing another harvest and pressing soon, hopefully at lower temperatures, which yields higher ‘brix,’ or sugar units.”

He said the 5.5 tons already harvested should yield about 60,000 to 70,000 bottles of wine.

“We still have about seven tons yet to pick and press,” he said. 

While the field temperature was only about 17 degrees at its coldest, Ferrante said his ice wine crew managed to do a fairly extensive mechanical harvest. He said he preferred colder temperatures of about 12 degrees and a longer duration of cold temperatures, which result in a very sweet ice wine.

“The colder the temperature, the harder the grapes freeze, and all water content in the grapes is frozen into very high sugar units, or brix,” he said. “So far we’ve harvested and pressed a 36 brix ice wine juice. For our next harvest this week we’re looking for ice wine juice of 38 to 40 brix units.”

Another Grand

River Valley Region winery, Debonne Vineyards on Doty Road in Madison Township, also has begun harvesting and pressing Vidal Blanc grapes for ice wine.

“We just harvested 5 tons of Vidal Blanc for ice wine from our vineyard,” said Debonne wine maker and owner Tony Debevc. “We’re going to help South River Vineyards harvest seven to eight tons of Concords for ice wine very soon. We’ll do another Vidal Blanc harvest for our own ice wine soon.”

He said his Vidal Blanc grapes were sweeter this year, close to 38 to 40 brix.

“The quality of the juice is great this year,” he said. “I think we — the Grand River Valley Region — grows some of the best ice wine grapes in the world, better than Canada, Germany, anywhere else. The growing season was long this year, and now we’ve got some cold weather to make very good ice wine. This year’s harvest has some great flavors.”

Debevc said at this year’s Ice Wine Festival during the first three weekends in March, the 2017 ice wine vintage should be available for barrel tasting.

“We’ll be mostly selling 2016 vintage at the Ice Wine Festival in March,” he said. “But the barrel tasting for 2017 (vintage) should be very interesting.”

Other Grand River Valley Region

vineyards, including St. Joseph’s Vineyards, Laurello Vineyards, Kosicek Vineyards, South River Vineyards and Grand River

Cellars will all be

making ice wines this year. 

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