Twelve intrepid souls braved bitter cold in 2004 to pick the Riesling grapes that had been left on their vines in hopes of the right conditions to make ice wine. The temperatures had remained below freezing for a few days, so December 19th’s 8 degree morning was deemed to be the time to pick.

Covered in a half-foot of snow, Old Mission Peninsula’s Leorie Vineyard was the spot, and the picking began at sun-up, about 8am. Despite the chilly temperatures, the sun was shining and the wind wasn’t too strong making this year’s picking a “relatively pleasant” experience.

The vines had been covered in netting to discourage the birds, and, once it was cut away, all the leaves and some of the grape clusters fell into the snow, thus making the hunt for fallen clusters part of the ritual. Every grape counts when each only gives up about one drop of juice. Picking took about four hours. The bins of grapes were rushed back to Black Star Farms for the outdoor crushing to begin; the frozen grapes are not allowed to thaw. Juice coming off the press was at about 55 brix – a measure of sweetness – about two and a half times the normal brix for table wines.

Local photographer, David Fox, was on hand to capture the day’s events for posterity. Go to David’s web site to see just what happened on that frigid day.

Exceedingly slow fermentation finally finished, and the 2004 Ice Wine was bottled in February and just released in November. The residual sugar is a staggering 40%, while alcohol is at 7%. Come on in to the Tasting Room for some of our latest “liquid gold.”

Blackstar Farms Ice Wine Vineyard photo by local photographer David Fox