Wineries across most of Germany’s 13 wine-growing regions had ideal conditions for harvesting Eiswein (ice wine) in the week leading up to Christmas, according to the German Wine Institute (DWI).
While ice wine harvest is always associated with risk and high physical effort during freezing cold temperatures, this year’s harvest caught the attention of wine lovers around the globe. In recent years, rising temperatures resulted in major losses for winemakers, as German wine law requires temperatures of at least -7 degrees Celsius (about 19.4 degrees Fahrenheit) before winemakers can pick frozen grapes for ice wine. If temperatures don’t drop low enough, grapes left on the vine in hopes of Eiswein are wasted, as was the case in 2019.
This year, however, Christmas came early! A world-famous rarity from Germany, this year’s harvest promises high-quality ice wine specialties from very healthy grapes. In the early morning hours of December 21, harvest workers braved the cold to collect overripe grapes to be pressed while frozen through. Ice wine is particularly sweet because of the fruit’s high sugar content, as a large part of the water remains in the frozen fruit.
The Korrell Johanneshof winery in Bad Kreuznach-Bosenheim (Nahe region) was the first winery able to harvest ice wine on December 21st, collecting frozen Riesling grapes with a must weight of 142 degrees Oechsle at temperatures of -8 degrees Celsius. Soon after, more winemakers in Hessische Bergstrasse, Mosel, Pfalz, and Rheingau reported that they too were fortunate to process frozen, highly aromatic grapes. In the Franken region, the Meinzinger winery celebrated their first successful ice wine harvest since 2016. Even in Württemberg, one of Germany’s warmest and southernmost regions, Riesling grapes were harvested for ice wine at -10 degrees Celsius early on December 22.
Overall, 152 estates in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate registered a total area of around 107 hectares for a possible ice wine harvest this winter, according to the German Chamber of Agriculture, compared to only 93 estates and 72 hectares the previous year.
*Photo Source: Moselwein / Chris Marmann at the Dr. Hermann Estate