Ice Wine Harvest

Yesterday, the grapes came in to be pressed for the 2011 ice wine vintage. The temperature dropped down to Minus 11 here in Vernon and stayed cold all day. Here’s the local crop, two days before harvest, when I got to wondering (like most everyone else) if there even was going to be a vintage and so scrambled uphill and down and found the crop at last:

Ice Wine Grapes Before Harvest

January 10, 2012. Between the birds and the shriveling, there’s not much left.

Then, of course, it got colder, and mid-afternoon on January 12, I was thee for the end of the harvest. Here’s the crew, picking a dozen rows, or about an acre, for the ice wine press:

2011 is Close to an End

And here we are, five minutes later, at the top of the hill:

And That’s That.

Total time for the crew to move up the final six rows? 10 minutes.

Of course, the end of harvest is a time for celebration, and yesterday was no exception. Here’s how the pickers celebrated:

Ice Wine Festival, Farm Style

The mound of grapes in the bin represent half of the yield from this particular plot. The white bins stacked up on the right represent one-half of the extra bins set here in October in anticipation of a heavy yield. Throughout the valley, estimates are that the birds got 70% of the crop this year. I believe it.

The Sun Peaks Ice Wine Festival, which runs for the next two weeks, is how ice wine is celebrated, off-the-farm style. It’s what is called naturally fun. Do check out their site on that link. Personally, I like the contrast between the heavily-photoshopped picture of a summer vineyard in Kelowna and a sparkly alpine ski village, and the further contrast with the true image of ice wine, as seen above: browns, more browns, and easygoing men in skidoo suits and turbans, with a tractor that weighs more than the crop.

Canada! What a place!

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