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Very early icewine harvest ín Germany

21.11.2022

Surprisingly and very early in the year, numerous winegrowers in the two north-eastern wine-growing regions of Saale-Unstrut and Saxony were able to crown the 2022 vintage with a successful ice vintage on the night of November 20th.


At minus seven to nine degrees Celsius, the conditions were perfect. The grape variety spectrum of the harvested icewine grapes ranged from Riesling and Traminer to Cabernet Blanc and Blauer Zweigelt. As the German Wine Institute (DWI) emphasizes, an early frost is very beneficial for ice wine production because the grapes are then still quite healthy.

Icewine poker involves risk

In the south-west of Germany, only comparatively few companies left grapes for ice wine production this year. In Rhineland-Palatinate there were only 31 producers who registered vineyards for the ice wine harvest, in 2021 there were still 152. Often the grapes were no longer in the state of health that is required for this noble sweet specialty.

In addition, due to climate change, there are fewer and fewer days a year on which ice wine harvesting is possible, which increases the risk for winegrowing companies. If the thermometer does not fall below seven degrees Celsius, there is a risk of total loss. In the 2019 vintage, for example, the Rhineland-Palatinate winegrowers had waited in vain for frost.

Noble sweet specialty in demand internationally

The secret of ice wines lies in the dense concentration of ingredients from grapes that are as healthy as possible. In the freezing temperatures, the water in the berries freezes and remains in the wine press. The juice then drips from the press as sweet as honey. Musts with such a high sugar content can only be fermented into wine with great difficulty by the yeasts. Accordingly, ice wines usually have a very high natural residual sugar content of well over 100 grams per liter, but in contrast to southern sweet wines they only have a relatively low alcohol content - often only around seven percent by volume.

The special thing about these fine wines is that this enormous residual sweetness, thanks to the fresh fruit acid, is not intrusive. As a rarity and specialty, German icewines also enjoy great international recognition.

Topical page: icewine

Video-archive: icewine harvest

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Winemaker Elisabeth Born with her Team in Salzatal, Sachsen/Saxony

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