In the ‘vineyard surfing’ story, I made reference to my first ice wine harvest. At the Mosel, the Riesling grapes used for this style of wine remain outside for two or three months after typical harvesting dates. Generally speaking, most growers will have harvested their fruit during the months of September and October. Some of us seek an undeniable change in aroma complexity and will leave some fruit on the vines until mid November. The Eiswein producers take a financial gamble and leave the grapes outside until the valley experiences -8° C. If at all, this will happen in December or January. A typical Eiswein harvest at the Mosel will involve car lights (to guide you down your row), gloves, beanies, Riesling Gluehwein, a hydrometer (to measure the soluble solids – sugar content), a communal post-harvest breakfast and most importantly, good humour.
Essentially, the water inside the berry freezes which allows us to press out juice with an extremely high sugar content. The end result is a wine with an unbelievable balance between sugar and acidity. An experience not to be missed. If you should be in the region during December or January and feel the urge to get involved, perhaps we can steer you in the right direction. If you are interested in buying some Eiswein, be sure to get your orders in early as I’ve noticed these wines seem to have designated homes before they finish fermenting.