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Inniskillin Icewine, recognized as one of the world's great wines, is truly winter's gift to wine lovers. Harvested at the pinnacle of Canada's crisp winter, comes a rich and alluring specialty wine known as Icewine.
The grapes, having already reached full ripeness in October, are left untouched on the vines under a cloak of protective netting until the first deep freeze of the Canadian winter. The harvest takes place between December and January, at -10 to -13°C. The grapes are either hand-picked or machine harvested in their naturally frozen state (ideally at -10°C), usually during the night. Despite the protective netting, wind damage and ravaging birds can further reduce the very low yields, sometimes as little as five to ten per cent of a normal yield.
After the frozen grapes have been de-stemmed and crushed, they are pressed while still frozen – the winery doors left open to maintain the sub-zero temperature. The water in the juice remains frozen as ice crystals during the pressing, and only a few drops of sweet concentrated juice are obtained.
After ‘racking’ (clearing the sediment), the clear juice is inoculated with a pure-strain yeast culture which is responsible for the primary fermentation that changes grape juice into wine. The juice ferments very slowly for several months while aging. It ceases fermenting naturally at approximately 10 to 12 per cent alcohol by volume.