Icewine In Georgia Depends On Cryogenic Freeze

4:52 PM, Oct 30, 2013   |    comments
This is icewine in Germany. Since we don't get those cold hours, Georgia "IceWine" is made with a little help from science.
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Dahlonega, Ga -- "If you pop Thompson seedless grapes into the freezer at home, they're like a great sweet treat," explains Doug Paul owner of Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega.

WATCH how Georgia IceWine is made

That's the idea behind "IceWine." Grapes are left on the vine until after the first freeze, which concentrates the sugar, and makes the wine very sweet.  However in Georgia, our first freeze is typically too late in the year to make "official icewine".

READ about Georgia's expanding wine industry

"We have some really dear friends up in Canada that make icewine, and we went to visit them and get some advice about equipment, harvesting, you name it, and I said 'man I would love to make some icewine in GA' because to my knowledge nobody's ever made it until we did," Paul describes. "They said 'well you can't because it's too hot'."

So Three Sisters Winery in Dahlonega came up with a solution.

"For us, we actually freeze the grapes, or we allow Mother Nature to freeze them if we have the right growing conditions, and it makes a sweet dessert wine," Paul points out. 

But, if Mother Nature takes her time, and the freezing is too late in the season, the grapes will rot on the vine and ruin the taste. 

By picking the grapes when they're ripe, then freezing them cryogenically, they still get the flavor of a traditional icewine, without the risk of waiting for weather.

The result: Dahlonega Gold Dessert Wine. They can't officially call it icewine unless the grapes were frozen naturally on the vine by Mother Nature.

"We've been making icewine now since our first harvest back in 2000," says Paul. 

But, too much rain can rot the grapes and, this was our fourth wettest summer on record.

"We've had a pretty good run the past 4 or 5 years," Paul clarifies. "This year though, we didn't get enough sunshine, and just too much rain."

Friday October 25th is typically the first freeze date in Dahlonega. And, ironically, they're likely to hit that mark. All of the rain and overcast skies proved to be too much for the fragile grapes needed to make the Dahlonega Gold -- so no dessert wine this time around, but the sturdier grapes needed for other wines are good to go.

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