25 Jul Kelowna Ice Wine Tasting: 4 Things to Keep in Mind
The Okanagan is a unique wine-growing area, not only because of its hot, dry summers and perfect soil conditions but also because it is one of the few places in the world where ice wine is produced. This liquid dessert is sweet and rich and is also extremely hard to produce, as the grapes must be picked while frozen on the vine and must meet strict Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) standards. Experience this sweet nectar in a Kelowna ice wine tasting on a tour with Teehouse.
A Sweet Beginning
Inherent of Germany’s eiswein, ice wine started being produced in the Okanagan (and North America) in the late-1970s when Hainle Vineyards in Peachland produced an ice wine made from locally grown Riesling grapes.
Other Okanagan wineries soon followed suit.
The 1990s and the 2000s saw the Okanagan as one of the biggest suppliers and exporters of high-quality and award-winning ice wine in the world.
Okanagan wine tours have continued to attract visitors from around the world, who love to sample the sweet, viscous nature of the wine, which is often served at a temperature of 10-20 degrees Celsius in small dessert glasses or even chocolate cups.
Minus Double Digits
Ice wine cannot be called as such without the grapes being picked from the wine while still frozen. There is usually only a one-to-two-week window in winter when the fruit can be picked here in the Okanagan. Usually, it occurs in December or January when it is between -8 and -11 degrees Celsius and often the grapes are picked at night to ensure they stay frozen.
In 2017, the Okanagan saw one of the earliest harvesting seasons on record when temperatures dipped below -8°C in early November.
Good to the Last Drop
The harvesting of grapes is not the only finicky thing when it comes to ice wine production. The processing is also difficult.
When crushed, the grapes, which resemble tiny, hard marbles, will only produce a small percentage of usable juice. Because the resulting concentrate is so high in sugar, it takes a long time to ferment.
To meet VQA standards, no artificial refrigeration or added sweeteners are allowed. The residual sugars present in the wine at the time of bottling must not be less than 100 grams per litres and must come from the natural sugars in the grapes.
Due to the work it takes to harvest, process and bottle ice wine, an average bottle can range from $50 to $135, depending on its vintage.
Enjoy a Kelowna Ice Wine Tasting on a Wine Tour
Ice wine is a great way to cap off a fine dining experience or to taste along Teehouse’s standard and private wine tours.
Our Lakeshore and West Kelowna wine tours take you to some of the best wineries renowned for their ice wines. Enjoy Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s organic 2014 Chardonnay Ice Wine, a gold winner at the 2017 Chardonnay du Monde, held in Burgundy, France or Kalala Organic Estate Winery’s 2013 Chardonnay Ice Wine, which won the same award in 2016. You may also want to sample Mission Hill Family Estate Winery’s Reserve Merlot Ice Wine 2013, which has also received glowing reviews.
Learn more about Kelowna ice wine tasting and tours by reading about the History of Fruit and Wine in the Okanagan Valley.
Teehouse Wine Tours is one of the top-rated West Kelowna wine tour companies, which has been receiving five-star reviews for our Okanagan wine tours and accommodations at our Teehouse Bed and Breakfast. See, taste, and experience why we are Kelowna’s #1 wine tour company.