Ice wine is of unique taste that is obtained by harvesting and pressing
frozen grapes at a temperature of at least -7°C.
Ice wine (Eiswein or ice wine) is aromatic wine of yellow amber colour,
rich bouquet and specific sweet-sour flavour and is traditionally made by
harvesting and pressing frozen grapes at a temperature of at least -7°C, and
contains at least 127° Oechsle (amount of must sugar).
Frozen grapes are harvested very carefully, exclusively
by hand, at early dawn while it is still dark because the harvest must be
finished before sun rise.
Because of its specificity ice wine is very rare wine and belongs to top
predicate wines. Ice wine is obtained exclusively from grapes of recommended
varieties, which ripens in exceptional years and in exceptional conditions and is
harvested and processed in a specific way.
As climatic conditions, and not the varieties, are crucial for ice wine,
many cultivars are suitable for its production. Next to grashevina and riesling,
which can best endure the delayed harvest, traminac, pinot, chardonnay and
sauvignon are also suitable for ice wine.
Furthermore, predicate wines, as well as ice wines are not made every
season but every three to four years, while those of exceptional quality are
made only every five to ten years.
Due to their production, small quantity and slow ripening, the quality of
ice wines is exceptional and generally they are very expensive. Their price is around 100 Euro, while the
exceptional ice wine is sold exclusively through auctions where even those
which are younger than the usual 30 to 50 years (ice wines last extremely long!)
achieve dizzying prices. For example, ice wine made from 1992 riesling was
auctioned for the price of then 2600 German DEM!
The highest quality, most valued and, of course, the most expensive ice
wines have been made in two countries with centuries of tradition - Austria and Germany, and Canada, the country with long and
sharp winters. But, no doubt, quality ice wines also come from Italy, Romania,
Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia. Ice wines are produced in
Croatia, too, and
particularly valued are those from Slavonia
and Međimuje vineyards.
of ice wine
The vine has been present for millions of years, and wine has a several millennia
long history. Grape seeds were found in sediments that date back to 80 million
years BC, and man tasted grapes from his very beginnings, while still in the Stone
Wine was produced in all ancient cultures such as Mesopotamia and Egypt, where,
beside beer, which "flowed in streams", there was no lack of wine. In Far East, China,
remains of 9000 years old beverage was found which was made not only from rice
and honey, but also from grape sugar, while viticulture developed around 3000
Viticulture and wine trade were blossoming in ancient Greece and
later the Romans took it over. Thanks to them, some 2000 years ago, wine became
present in the areas of today's Austria
the area of crucial importance for exceptional and rare ice wine.
From the very beginning viticulture was in the
domain of the clergy and monasteries. In the 8th century Charles the Great
prescribed planting vines, grapes processing and wine trade. Although we cannot determine with certainty
who and when started producing ice wine in those areas, some believe that the
beginning is linked to the area of Austria and dates from the 12th century and
Germany until the late 18th century.
Although there are many local legends, one of them mentions the beginning
of ice wine production in late 18th century, more precisely in the fall of 1794
in one of many vineyards in Frankish realm. That year winter came much earlier
than usual and all grapes in that area were frozen. Although quite surprised
and confused by the caprice nature prepared for them, rural labourers didn't
give up the planned autumn harvest in the new winter conditions. They carefully
picked grapes and pressed it while they were still frozen and thus made history
by discovering a way of getting extraordinary ice wine.
Production of ice wine
Ice wine is aromatic wine, of yellow amber colour,
rich bouquet made by harvesting frozen grapes at the temperature of at least -7°C.
Even today, ice wine is made in traditional way
which involves long and highly risky process in specific macro and micro
climatic conditions. Grapes are not harvested in normal harvest time, but are
left hanging on vines until winter so they get frozen. Grapes must be preserved
during harvest which is one of basic preconditions for ice wine.
Grapes are harvested only after the temperature in previous few days was
lower than -7 ° C. In Canada grapes are usually frozen to -8°C for at least
five days, and in Austria and Germany they are harvested at the temperature
from -8 to -10°C while ideal temperature goes down to even -15 ° C. Frozen
grapes are picked very gently, exclusively by hand, early at dawn while it is
still dark because the harvest must be finished before sun rise.
Immediately after being harvested the grapes are pressed slowly and
carefully while still frozen, when ice crystals of frozen water remain in solid
form in the press not entering the must. Slowly, drop by drop, like thick
honey, only very concentrated juice passes through. Naturally, frozen grapes
can give small amounts of must, but it is very concentrated.
Sticky, thick, aromatic and sweet grape juice that contains a high
proportion of concentrated sugar, fruit acids and various fruit flavours slowly
and naturally ferment into extraordinary aromatic ice wine. Ice wine is then
left to mature in bottles and the optimal maturity is achieved only after three
to five years.