As Winter Storm Elliott rippled across the country this weekend, it brought numerous canceled flights, precarious road conditions, and freezing temperatures. But some wine producers in Ohio are finding a way to turn lemons into lemonade — or, frozen grapes into sweet ice wine.
Producers in the Grand River Valley AVA of northeast Ohio are electing to brave freezing temperatures to pick grapes for the 2022 ice wine vintage, according to Cleveland.com. The network reports vineyard workers at several wineries hand-picking grapes in sub-zero temperatures.
The well-ripened grapes will be pressed while frozen, resulting in a crisp, sweet wine ideal for holiday celebrations.
While many Ohio vineyards produce their annual ice wine vintages during December, winemakers say that this year’s batch was unusually frigid. “The grapes are frozen hard like marbles,” wine consultant and educator Lauren Fiala tells the news site. “Usually, you get some juice on your gloves. This year was clean picking because they’re so cold.”
Due to its scarcity, syrupy-sweet ice wine is sold in limited quantities — and comes with a high price tag. It’s typically created from Vidal Blanc or Concord grapes, which develop thick skins and can be harvested late in the season.
South River Vineyards owner Gene Sigel told Cleveland.com that ice wine grapes are usually picked at around 16 degrees and pressed at 19 degrees, meaning this harvest won’t go into production immediately. Winemakers will slowly warm the grapes until they reach the right temperature for pressing, just in time for New Year’s celebrations.