From Winemaker’s lips to God’s ears…. here’s the scoop for Icewine 2011!

We’re all set for our “Shimmer of Gold Icewine Tours” to Niagara this Sunday, January 15th and Sunday the 22nd. The question on a lot of people’s mind, “how’s the weather cooperating for the grapes”   It’s always about the weather, but in this case, with icewine it REALLY is about the weather!

Early this week we had the chance to speak with winemaker Bruce Nicholson from Inniskillin Winery  in Niagara, and as he puts it, it’s EXTREME winemaking, and not without its risks. We asked Bruce to give us the low down so far on the 2011 icewine vintage. . (FYI, even if the grapes are picked in the next year, as 2012 this year, the vintage will still be 2011, the year the grapes ripened.) Here’s what he had to say

“We get a lot of media calling us up, and asking about how things are going. In the second and third weeks of December   “Aren’t you worried Bruce” was the reoccurring question.  No why, I say, we know it’s going to get cold, we’ve still got January and February to go.  That’s the thing about icewine, it’s not like harvesting other fruit, where you know when you’re going to pick. Icewine picking can happen in a number of months, part of why its extreme winemaking” 

“So what are the optimal conditions for picking Bruce?” we ask?

“I like to pick between at least minus 9, 9.5 to minus 11.

I always wait for the cold temps.  I like what you said Georgia about the freeze and thaw…. that’s what gives a wine the complexity in the end, that repetitive cycle helps develops the important components of a great icewine.

With the crazy warm temperatures we’ve had so far, how is the 2011 icewine vintage looking?

“I really like what I see, I’m cautiously optimistic, our yields were good, the birds didn’t get them, kind of a relief, Wednesday was cooperative enough, we picked up everything we needed to… left a few rows, about 8 or so… (we learn that approximately 15% of the expected yield for table grapes is all you get for icewine…. which contribute to its richer price)


Yes, we pipe in, you are reserving four of those for us when we descend upon Inniskillin Sunday January 22nd with our bus load of enthusiastic, icewine lovers!

“Oh, when are you guys coming?” Bruce inquires. We are not sure whether he wants to be there  when our boisterous group arrives.

We are mistaken, making a note of our day and time; we think he is planning on being on hand if possible.

Back to the vintage, “how’s it looking Bruce”?

“Good quantity/great quality” in a nutshell.

That sounds like a wrap we say, for both the harvesting of the icewine grapes for 2011 and for this interview.

See you Bruce, on Sunday, January 22nd!


Inniskillin Basket Press

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