Food & Drink

German Ice Wine Harvest Lives Up To Its Name

German ice wine harvest marks end of the country’s wine-growing year.

Despite the bitter cold, wine growers in south-west Germany were picking the last frozen grapes from the vine on Saturday to make the country’s traditional ice wine, or Eiswein as it is known there. A sweet dessert wine, this year’s ice wine will benefit from the recent dry weather, according to the president of the Baden wine growers’ association, Kilian Schneider.

“The ice-wine harvest marks a successful conclusion to the 2016 wine-growing year,” said his counterpart in Wuerttemberg, Hermann Hohl. “The colder weather would also help the quality of the wine”, he said. The grapes are pressed while still frozen, ideally in temperatures lower than -7 C. Germany in fact experienced its coldest winter night on Thursday 5th January as the mercury dropped to -26 C in some places – the coldest it has been in the 2016-17 season. Despite not being sold in commercially significant amounts, ice wine is still seen as one of the country’s flagship products.

German ice wine

Frozen grapes waiting to be harvested as German Eiswein / Image:

Mosel, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheinhessen were other regions where ice wine was harvested. For example, in the historic village of Steinberg, next to Eberbach Abbey (Rheingau, State of Hessen), frozen Riesling grapes were harvested at -7,6 C. Germany’s Wine Princess Christina Schneider from Franconia was among the first happy producers to post pictures form her ice wine harvest via social media channels. In her case the frozen grapes harvested were brought in during freezing temperatures of -9,7 C from vineyards located in Nordheim am Main, just east of Frankfurt.

German ice wine

Franconian wine queen and German wine princess Christina Schneider harvests frozen Silvaner grapes for this year’s Eiswein, in Nordheim am Main, Germany / Image: Christina Schneider

According to Germany’s Federal Wine Law, it must be at least -7° C cold in order to harvest the deeply frozen grapes. They need to be put on the wine press in a deep frozen state in order to squeeze the concentrated juice out of the individual grapes. Winemakers are looking forward to additional cold nights in order to harvest remaining grapes that were left at the vineyards in the hope of making 2016 a vintage year for German ice wine.

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